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The winning team from Our Lady of the Snows included Keanu Juhasz, Issiah Morales-Chavez, Brandon Delgado and Alejandro Ayala.--Supplied photo

The winning team from Our Lady of the Snows included Keanu Juhasz, Issiah Morales-Chavez, Brandon Delgado and Alejandro Ayala.
--Supplied photo

Readin’ and writin’ and financial literacy

Snows eighth graders score big in stock market game

By Kelly White

When GameStop stock soared in late 2020, a group of students at Our Lady of the Snows School saw it as an opportunity for investment growth and a chance to learn the market.

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The winning team from Our Lady of the Snows included Keanu Juhasz, Issiah Morales-Chavez, Brandon Delgado and Alejandro Ayala.
–Supplied photo

Participating in the Stock Market Program, a financial literacy initiative for grade school students to learn about the financial markets, personal savings and investing concepts and careers within the financial industry, a group of OLS eighth graders bought GameStop Corp. stock low and sold it high.

A Fortune 500 company, GameStop is an American video game, consumer electronics and gaming merchandise retailer.

Issiah Daniel Morales-Chavez said for his classmates and him, investing in GameStop was an easy decision.

“Everyone loves video games and has a console. Why not?” Morales-Chavez said.

Buying the stock before it broke out enabled Morales-Chavez and 10 of his classmates to capture an immense financial gain and secure their place as the winning team in the entire program. Their portfolio peaked at nearly $13,000, marking the largest lead ever held by a team.

Participating in the Stock Market Program inspired Morales-Chavez to consider a career in the financial world.

“I see a future for myself in finance,” Morales-Chavez said. “Learning how to research companies and how to invest and how to gain a profit interested me. I did the research as if it was one of my video games and I wanted to win. A trick is that if you just pay attention to how busy a business is and then you take advantage of what’s happening, you can get the upper hand.”

Our Lady of the Snows is just one of 64 Big Shoulders Fund schools that participates in the Stock Market Program. Big Shoulders Fund provides support to inner-city schools that provide a quality, values-based education for Chicago’s children.

“Big Shoulders came to us with this opportunity years ago, and we thought it seemed like a great program which allowed students to gain financial literacy,” said Kristen Yarka, OLS eighth grade teacher. “The students now have a better understanding of the financial markets and how to get involved in them.”

The OLS team was led by two volunteer teachers from Rockefeller Capital Management, a financial advisory firm. They assisted the students in purchasing GameStop in November 2020 and selling the stock when it came close to its highest valuation.

They also worked with the class by going over some of the fundamental financial principles that helped each student learn more about the basics of the stock market and how to apply that knowledge to create the best portfolio.

“I feel this program provides students with one of their first ‘real-life’ applications,” said Kayla Benz, Relationship Manager at Rockefeller Capital Management. “They are able to see how the goods and services they use on a daily basis actually drive the global markets, which is an awesome concept that many individuals do not get to actualize until they are much older. It’s exciting to see the students relate to the program and begin understanding how participating in the stock markets can help them achieve their own personal goals.”

Benz said educating others on financial security should at a start young age.

“I cannot stress enough how pivotal teaching financial literacy skills at an early age is for students,” she said. “Healthy money habits sit at the basis of achieving any monetary goal and these financial basics are often not part of general curriculum. A strong foundation in financial literacy – from compounding interest to how credit cards work to investing in the stock markets – paves the pathway to students attaining their wants and needs in the future. I find utilizing this program to instill the financial infrastructure students require to make their long-term objectives a reality.”

OLS eighth grader Alejandro Ayala agreed and is optimistic about one day obtaining a career in finance.

“My mother has a graduate degree in finance, and I see how successful she is,” he said. “I hope that one day I can be as successful as her.”

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