Forget the high-priced financial gurus and brokerage firms. If you’re looking for winning investment advice, the fifth-graders at Hewlett Elementary School are your best bet.
The school’s 2018-19 Stock Market Club comprised 20 students divided into five teams. Team BLEM — the first letters of the last names of team members Daniel Baum, Ryan Leguillow, Hailey Erdos and Madison Miley — defeated 266 other teams from elementary, middle and high schools across Long Island in the spring enrichment session, from March until the end of May. Two other teams from Hewlett Elementary also had impressive showings: Russian Stock Inc. and FBI Investments finished second and third, respectively, out of 23 elementary school teams.
The schools took part in a stock market simulation game sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group for broker-dealers, investment banks and asset managers.
Each team started with $100,000 of virtual money to invest. BLEM finished the game with more than $109,000, a return on investment of 9.38 percent. Hewlett Elementary fifth-grade teacher Carole Kreisberg, the club’s adviser for 12 years, said that this was her first win ever. “I’m going to hand over my pension fund to this team,” she joked. “Their performance was better than any professional’s performance.”
Kreisberg was a foreign exchange trader for the Manhattan-based Emcor Eurocurrency Management Corporation for 11 years before becoming a teacher. “I have all this background knowledge from my previous career that I’m able to share with the students,” she said. “I never had a 9.38 portfolio growth in my career, so these students already have me beat.”
“This club helps bring the real world into the classroom,” Kreisberg added. “It exposes students to the financial markets, and that’s big, because financial literacy is important even at a young age.”
Daniel Baum said that he first learned about the club from an older cousin. “When I first heard about the club, I thought it would be a cool thing to be involved in,” he said. “My aunt also works for SIFMA, so that makes it even cooler to be a part of the Stock Market Club.” Madison Miley said she joined because it was closely related to her favorite subject in school. “I like math and working with numbers,” she said. “That’s why I joined.”
The team was told of its victory on June 1. “We found out we won over the weekend, and I couldn’t wait to tell the students the following Monday,” Kreisberg said. “I was so elated. It’s unheard of for 10-year-old students to finish ahead of high school teams that have 17- and 18-year-old students. They’re an impressive group.”
Daniel said he felt the suspense as the competition wound down. “The days leading up to the end went by so slow,” he said.
As the school year ended, Kreisberg said that next year’s fifth-graders had yet to sign up, but that typically changes. “The one downside of this club is that a lot of students want to join, but I can only accept 20 students,” she said. “I wish I could expand it.”
Daniel said he was prepping a sibling for the 2021-22 school year. “My younger brother is going into third grade, and he already wants to join the club,” he said. “He didn’t need much convincing from me.”
As the fifth-graders move up to Woodmere Middle School, Kreisberg said, the skills they learned should apply to other subject areas. “The students could certainly bring their knowledge to their math and economics classes,” she said. “I think they’re future traders, without a doubt — if not in a professional career, definitely in their personal lives. They already have a fundamental understanding of investing.”