By Curt Yeomans
Students at E.W. Oliver Elementary school saw other teams take home larger trophies in May, when the Clayton County school was being recognized by the Georgia Council on Economic Education for being the county champions in the Stock Market Game.
The largest trophy went to Parkview High School, in Lilburn, which had won a third consecutive state championship. E.W. Oliver was participating for the first time.
Ron Boykins, Oliver's principal, and his students immediately started aiming for higher success. "We wanted to be the top team in the state," Boykins said during a school assembly on Monday. "We wanted to bring home the biggest trophy."
There were 4,400 teams, from elementary to high school -- public and private -- that participated in the Georgia branch of the game this fall. On Saturday, the final standings for fall 2007 came out, and revealed a change at the top.
E.W. Oliver had seven teams finish in the Top 10, including the state's top three teams. It has replaced Parkview as Georgia's champion in the Stock Market Game, a Foundation for Investor Education-sponsored competition, which allows students to simulate the ability to trade stocks on Wall Street.
The top team in the state was made up of five, fourth- and fifth-grade students. They started out with the $100,000 that each team is given by the Georgia Council on Economic Education. The team, called "Group C" by administrators at E.W. Oliver, invested in mortgages and financial companies and monitored the news for information about mortgage rates, so they would continually be aware of what issues might affect their investments.
"Group C" finished the 10-week game with $262,000, the 18th highest final value in the 27-year history of the state branch of the game. "Group C" was made up of Eniyah Willingham, Azha Parker, Jonathan Nowell, Daniel Akinbami and Jaelle Sodjatsi.
"It feels awesome to win the state championship," Parker said. "It makes you feel more professional. When I grow up, I want to have my own company, and join the stock market."
"Group B", which won second place in the state, was made up of Kenya Peterson, Elizabeth Oluata, Gabriella Johnson, Malcom James, Marissa Cantrell, Alisa Brooks, Sydney Glover, Nakayla Appleby, Chaniah Rolack, Andre Jester and Tommy Myers.
"Group A", which won third-place, was made up of Christien Chinn, Aaron Ushery, Mikaeka Grissom, Mira Durley, Ethan Orphe, Justice Dobson, Zoe Underwood, Kodi Nix, Jordan Myers, Royal Peoples and Morgan Short.
Akinbami and Sodjatsi said the students learned about "short sells," "inside trading" and "bear" and "bull" markets through the game.
Boykins told the three teams he is working to organize a field trip to New York City for them, so they can visit the New York Stock Exchange. He is also expecting the students to do more research on companies in the spring. He will also ask the parents of the winning students to work with their children to invest real money in the stock market, so the youths will have a real-life experience to help them succeed in the game.
"It [the Stock Market Game] is another opportunity for us to help you improve your math and science skills," Boykins told the children.
E.W. Oliver is only the second elementary school in the history of the Georgia branch of the game to win the state championship. Peeples Elementary School, in Fayetteville, won the state title in the fall of 2004. E.W. Oliver, however, also had teams finish fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth in the state.
"It's very unusual to see a school have that many teams finish in the top 10," said Dr. David Martin, the executive director of the Georgia Council on Economic Education. "Part of it has to do with them [E.W. Oliver Elementary School students] having a principal who is a big champion for the game. When a principal makes the game a high priority, it makes a tremendous impact, because the biggest variable in this game is enthusiasm."
Gloria Duncan, Clayton County's interim school superintendent, was on hand during the assembly to congratulate the state champions. She told the other students, parents, teachers and administrators in attendance that Oliver's students were an example of what Clayton County students are doing in the classroom.
"This is the heart of what is going on in Clayton County schools," Duncan said. "Students, keep on doing it, and be proud to be a student in the Clayton County School System."