Sego Middle School pupils recently showed that you can be profitable in the stock market - if you play the game right.
The eighth-grade team of five participated in the Stock Market Game, which is played by students in public and independent schools in Georgia. Each team was given a simulated portfolio valued at $100,000 in September.
Over the course of 10 weeks, the students were able to "purchase" stocks, buy on margin, sell short and invest in mutual funds or bonds.
The team won first place out of 757 teams in Richmond County and placed ninth out of 4,349 teams in Georgia. The final value of their portfolio was $137,576.
The win didn't come without some challenges. At one point in the game, their portfolio was valued at about $50,000, they said.
"When I saw that, my heart jumped out," said team member Brandon Thomas. "We all wanted to win, so we started looking hard for different stocks. We didn't want to lose any more money."
A lot of research went into choosing which stocks to buy and which ones they needed to get rid of, said teammate Alexis Smith.
Among the many stocks they purchased were Comcast and Ralph Lauren.
"We were always looking up information to see how the stocks were doing," she said. "We couldn't just guess. That would've cost us a lot of money."
The team kept a journal to monitor its activity in the stock market, she said.
The Stock Market Game was a fun way to teach students a valuable skill, said teacher and team adviser Tara Rouse Hampton.
"Even when they were really low, I didn't feel so bad because I felt that they were learning. That was the most important thing, I believe more important than winning," she said. "Even if they bought and the stock tumbled and they lost money, they learned. They learned not to go back and do what they did previously. Basically, they learned how to play the market, which is a great thing. That's something that a lot of grown folks can't do and don't understand."
The game was an extracurricular activity, and participation was voluntary, Hampton said.
Sego's team was recognized Feb. 16 by the Richmond County school board. The team will be recognized in May during the annual Stock Market Game Awards Luncheon in Atlanta.
Other members of the team are Jayla Simmons, Taniya Holman and Samantha Person.