Melanie Lopez-Menendez, first place co-winner, shared the honor with Kevin Rivadeneyra. Reef Landrum, competing as an individual, came in 20th place.

In the past, local students have done very well in the Stock Market Game which simulates the real market so students can learn about investing. But never has a team won first place in the South Florida Division. Marathon High School sophomores Kevin Rivadeneyra and Melanie Lopez-Menendez in Dr. Elizabeth Bayerl’s economics class did it with stock in JC Penney.

“We’ve had students do very well before, but never this well,” Bayerl said. “And Reef Landrum, competing as an individual, also did very well. He placed 20th.”

About two dozen South Florida schools competed in the annual challenge where students invest a hypothetical $100,000 in real stocks, bonds and mutual funds. They only have a few weeks to grow the investment and must adhere to certain rules in the game sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).

In all, Kevin and Melanie realized  $19,000 gain on their investment while Reef realized a $4,000 gain. Both invested in JC Penney with different results.

“I got in too early and it was going down, so I sold,” Reef said. “I learned that a single day can change the outcome. If I had stayed in one more day, I would have made more than $3,000.”

Kevin and Melanie, however, played it just right. In addition to the JC Penney stock, they also bought GasLog Ltd. shares for a modest gain. Kevin’s favorite — Nike — did not prove to be the winner they had hoped for.

Reef, on the other hand, went for the technology companies. He spread his risk between companies that made tasers, low-jack car theft detections systems, a semi-conductor firm and a communications company.

Bayerl, who has coordinated the teaching game at the school for the past several years, gives Key Colony Resident Pete Donnelly credit for its success.

“Mr. Donnelly has devoted one or two class periods each year for 10 years to students in economics classes to explain how to build wealth and how to invest in the market,” she said. In addition, Donnelly has donated several related texts to the school library.


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