Stock Pitch Competition teaches students about stock market

Photo courtesy Westminster College
Fulton High School student Natalie Bruno poses for a photo with Jonathan Banza at the Stock Pitch Competition on Friday. Bruno won first place in the contest and received $100 in prize money.
Photo courtesy Westminster College Fulton High School student Natalie Bruno poses for a photo with Jonathan Banza at the Stock Pitch Competition on Friday. Bruno won first place in the contest and received $100 in prize money.

The Blue Blazers Investment Committee, working with Junior Achievement, hosted a Stock Pitch Competition for Fulton High School students Friday at Westminster College.

34 students from FHS's business law and personal finance class participated in the competition.

During the competition, students -- either in pairs or individually -- presented stock pitches to a panel of judges.

The two judges were members of the Blue Blazers Investment Committee, a Westminster organization. Members of the organization worked alongside Junior Achievement to make the competition possible.

Liz Schawb, FHS business education teacher, and Tia Draffen, FHS publications teacher, also helped organize the competition.

Westminster student Jonathan Banza serves as the current CEO of the Blue Blazers. He said the goal of the organization has always been to educate members about the stock market, but he wanted to expand that goal.

"This year we had the chance to work in partnership with Junior Achievement to have an outreach program at Fulton High School, where we worked with 34 students who are part of a finance class there," Banza said.

Prior to Friday's competition, members of the Blue Blazers voluntarily visited FHS to teach students about the stock market and invest. This also helped prepare them for the competition.

Friday's competition was the culmination of the competition.

"The goal for us is to expose them to the stock market, but also get them to learn about it through an experiential mean," Banza said.

He said the program was successful this year, both for the students and the Blue Blazers.

The organization spoke with Callaway Kids Bank, which Banza hopes will allow the pitch competition to expand for the future.

"We want to expand it for next year as well, and hopefully get more schools involved around the community," he said.

The top three students in the competition received cash prizes.

First place winner was Natalie Bruno. She received $100.

Second place winners were Anniston Marshall and Gabriella Hersey. They received $80.

Third place winner was Simon Larson. He received $50.

Banza said the students were judged on several criteria, including how well the students understood the company they were pitching and their evaluations.

Teamwork was another area the judges looked at.

Tami Ensor, assistant professor of education, got involved in the pitch competition because of Junior Achievement.

She said Junior Achievement is a national program "that provides financial literacy, entrepreneurship and career readiness skills for students pre-K all the way up through 12th grade."

Westminster got involved with Junior Achievement because of Ensor, who works with pre-service teachers. These teachers from Westminster go and teach some of these lessons to local schools.

She said they are in Fulton and New Bloomfield.

"It is a great opportunity to bring those kinds of practical, real-world necessary skills to our students, pre-K all the way through 12th grade," Ensor said.

One program offered by Junior Achievement is about the stock market.

She approached Banza and asked about combining their efforts.

"It was a lot of his leadership skills that really helped this to be successful," she said.

After the competition was over, Ensor thought it went very well.

"These students not only just learned about the stock market, they actually got to participate," she said.

Prior to the students pitching their businesses on Friday, they attended a panel with representatives of investment firms. The students were able to ask questions and learn more about their careers.

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