Yutan team wins state stock market challenge

Generally, when you think of the stock market, you don’t think about high school students, but sophomores Joey Benjamin, Carsyn Smith and about 1,000 other high school students across Nebraska proved this wrong. 

As part of personal finance class, Benjamin and Smith participated in the JA Stock Market Challenge on November 30, where students started with 1,000,000 fictitious dollars and invested them in fake companies in a simulation of the stock market.

Carsyn Smith, Ethan Eggen, Joey Benjamin and Max Peterson celebrate after winning the JA Stock Market Challenge. The team beat over 200 other teams from the state of Nebraska. (Ellie Lloyd)

“It was very, very fun,” Benjamin said. “It was a great in-class experience.”

Business teacher Clay Carlton prepared the students for the stock market challenge by using stock market simulations and lessons provided by Junior Achievement.

The stock market challenge is intense,” Carlton said. “It challenges kids to think on the fly and make big decisions based upon real-life scenarios.” 

Benjamin and Smith’s team, which also included Ethan Eggen and Max Peterson, had a specific strategy that they used during the competition.

“We attempted to look at which stocks were very low and invest in them while they were low in hopes that they would increase in value,” Benjamin said.

Unfortunately, their team had a rocky start to the stock market competition.

“In the very beginning, we were in like dead last,” Smith said, “and lost like 200 grand.”

After a slow start, Benjamin and Smith’s team went on to get first in the state.

“(I) was very very excited and surprised,” Benjamin said. 

Carlton enjoyed watching the students compete and have fun during the competition.

Many of them get locked in and engaged more so than normal, which is really fun to see as an educator,” Carlton said.

I’d like to think that we’d do just about the same as this time.

— Joey Benjamin

Participating in the stock market challenge is not just fun but also a learning experience.

Students are learning in an interactive environment and forced to make quick decisions based off events taking place in the competition,” Carlton said.

The students agree that the challenge was educational.

“I guess I know how stocks work now,” Smith said.

Because Benjamin and Smith’s team won state, they will have the opportunity to compete at the national level in May of 2022, and they have one big goal in mind.

“I’d like to think that we’d do just about the same as this time,” Benjamin said.