Students claim #1, #4 and #6 spots in Capitol Hill Challenge

five redan students stand in front of white houseStudents at one DeKalb County School District (DCSD) used their problem-solving, money management, and pattern recognition skills to earn top honors in a nationwide competition.

One classroom at Redan High School fielded the first, fourth-, and sixth-place teams out of more than 3,300 in the 2018 Capitol Hill Challenge, hosted by The SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game. In addition to fielding some of the best teams in the United States, Redan High was also ranked first out of more than 350 schools nationwide.

The Capitol Hill Challenge prompts students to turn $100,000 in play money into the most capital possible using real-world stocks. Students must use research, critical thinking, pattern recognition skills, and knowledge of commerce to gain the most profit. Teams are also required to use different types of stocks, maintain a financial portfolio, and abide by other reality-based rules.

“It feels good to do as well as we did,” said Adrian Brewster, who played as part of the fourth-placed team. “It’s not like we were lucky—we put a strategy in place. It was just hard work that paid off.”

Brewster and Redan High students Shania Hinds, Jacarria Harris, and Alexis Goings received an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. in early June 2018. Accompanied by teacher William Roth, students were able to meet with, speak to, and be honored in front of federal legislators, including Reps. Hank Johnson and John Lewis.

This included a special awards ceremony at the Rayburn Foyer along Capitol Street and Independence Avenue.

Hinds was apprehensive toward the game at first, but found The Stock Market Game’s website made trading easier. For her, the game put students’ time and money management skills to the test, above all else.

Hinds, who is a part of the top-ranked team in the country, was able to take that strategy and turn $100,000 into approximately $125,000 in just 14 weeks.

“It wasn’t as complicated as I thought,” Hinds said. “I enjoyed it. Throughout the competition, our team didn’t drop below fifth place. On the second to last day of the competition, I realized we were in second. There was a lot of pressure.”

Hinds’ team fluctuated between the number two and three spot throughout the competition. On certain days, only $250 separated the top three teams.

Harris, also part of the number one team in the nation, also had no knowledge of trading stocks until it was introduced by Roth.

“I thought it was going to be just another game, something used for classroom participation,” Harris said. “But we gained a lot from it—and actually won! It was kind of mind-blowing.”

Hinds and Harris focused their funds on the technology and medical sectors due to how rapidly each industry evolves.

Brewster credits his top-10 finish to studying the stock market, financing, and business trends with his mother, as well as researching strategies from real-world traders such as Jason Bond. The industries, at times, didn’t even matter.

Harris relished leapfrogging 200 to 300 teams at a time using his technical trading strategy.

“Sometimes, I never even knew the name of the stocks I was investing in—I just looked at the graphs,” Brewster said. “I never held a stock for more than a week.”

five students pose with Congressman Hank JohnsonStock team coach William Roth, who has taught English at Redan for four years, uses his own, real-world experience in the stock market to impart knowledge to students. Roth’s coaching strategy primarily involved keeping students on track in terms of rules—little things that added up to a larger whole.

Roth says it’s unbelievable that students in his English Literature class demonstrated such world class talent. He knew the students would do well, however, in that they showed much more interest in the game than Beowulf or The Canterbury Tales.

“I had no idea it was going to culminate the way it did. When something’s happening, you’re tuned into the specifics and there’s so much pressure on,” Roth said. “Looking back on it, it’s something very special that they treated me and the entire school to. It culminated in the coolest way possible.”

Roth’s proudest professional and personal moments were watching students interact with Senators, Congressmen, fellow competitors, and financial experts while in Washington, D.C.

“There was a couple of times when students were speaking not only in front of cameras, but a few multi-millionaires,” Roth said. “Their public speaking skills went up a tick or two. They had an academic and life experience that was unbelievable. I hope we continue to allow students to do that.”

For Harris and Hinds, representing DCSD and Redan High School has never felt better. The students were even recognized at their graduation by principal Janice Boger.

“We put our school on the map,” Harris said. “It’s great that we’re the ones that put our school up there. We feel like we made our whole school proud.”

To all future stock traders or Stock Market Game teams, the Redan High students advise to take risks, analyze ticker symbols, as well as taking the leap to invest time and money.

“I just want to encourage people to do it—you can make some serious money trading stocks,” Brewster said. “I hope people want to do it after seeing what we were able to do.”