An essay Dell Rapids St. Mary sophomore Payton Park wrote as part of his personal finance class was judged as the best in the state.
Park’s essay – which outlined hypothetical five- and 20-year investment strategies for World Food Program USA – took first place in the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation’s fall 2017 South Dakota InvestWrite competition.
Although Park is the fourth Dell Rapids St. Mary student to place in the contest, he is the first state champion, according to St. Mary personal finance teacher Amanda Geraets.
“Payton’s essay is really good,” Geraets said. “After he won, I went and read through it again. Yeah, he’s got some good points there.”
Park said he previously took classes related to personal finance, but the value of investing came clear during the fall semester in Geraets’ class.
“It wasn’t until this last class that I realized just how important it is,” he said.
Essay submissions are judged by financial advisors, Geraets said.
“About 30 of them read through the essays and judge them in Pierre,” she said. “(The students) type it, and I send it in. I’ll read through it to make sure there’s no grammatical errors, but otherwise it’s just the kids.”
The essay competition follows participation in the SIFMA Foundation’s stock market game, which is in its 15th year. Geraets said the game has been part of St. Mary’s curriculum for seven years. In the game, students receive a fake $100,000 to invest in the real stock market.
“The best part was just seeing the nature of stocks and how some like to jump up and down, and others are more stable,” Park said.
Compared to the 20-year plan in Park’s essay with investments in steadily-growing businesses, his five-year strategy involved stock diversification with riskier investments to maximize revenue.
“I would invest in many stocks not just a few so that if one of the stocks ends up plummeting, not all of the money will have been invested in it,” Park wrote in his five-year plan. “Spreading out the money will decrease the risk of the money being lost to a stock’s sudden failure.”
Seeing her students find success is rewarding, Geraets said.
“It makes me proud to know that they’re using the concepts that we’re teaching and being able to apply it,” she said.
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