Morris Township 5th-grader wins finance essay, joins impressive list


The Wharton School had better start looking over its shoulder.  Morristown’s Thomas Jefferson School may be cranking out MBAs pretty soon.

On Friday, Juliette LaMontagne became the elementary school’s third 5th-grader since 2008 to win honors in a national essay contest on investing.

“Choosing a stock is like developing a war plan to win a battle,” Juliette wrote in her essay, which took fifth place among 2,800 elementary division entries nationwide by scrutinizing the market capitalization and beta volatility indicators of Starbucks’ stock.

In what is becoming a winter tradition at TJ, a school assembly delivered the good news to the stunned 11-year-old, who follows alumni Caroline Hersh (2008) and Callie Sundin (2011) into the winner’s circle of the InvestWrite Competition, sponsored by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation.  The school’s Pajama Day was canceled for the occasion, in anticipation of the photo ops.

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Juliette’s essay concluded that Starbucks is recession-proof:

“My mom might say I am too young for coffee, but that is not going to stop me from buying Starbucks’ amazing stock! I will win the battle and get rich along the way.”

Juliette now has $50 to invest– and more if she melts down the towering trophy that TJ Principal Cristina Frazzano handed to her.

The moment was shared by Juliette’s proud parents, Ken, a molecular biologist at Novartis, and Laura, who contributed the writing gene; Juliette’s kid sister, Kristina, 8, who thought her parents were taking her to the doctor’s office; and grandparents Ken and Margaret LaMontagne and Nat and Rosemary Adornato.

“Juliette likes taking on challenges. She welcomes them,” said her dad.

WOW!  Fifth-grader Juliette Lamontagne reacts to announcement that she is a winner in a national essay contest. The news was sprung on her at a special assembly at the Thomas Jefferson School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
WOW! Fifth-grader Juliette LaMontagne reacts to announcement that she is a winner in a national essay contest. The news was sprung on her at a special assembly at the Thomas Jefferson School. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Those challenges include pitching softballs, dancing, playing saxophone and piano and writing a fantasy/adventure novel inspired by Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, which puts a modern spin on Greek mythology.

Along those lines, the LaMontagnes are sponsoring Camp Half-Blood, a role-playing gathering for a dozen kids this summer.  Juliette’s career aspirations keep ping ponging between novelist and astrophysicist, according to her parents.

The Morris Township family had special praise for teacher Jeff Brown, who incorporates SIFMA’s Stock Market Game into his Quest program for gifted and talented students.  Those sentiments were echoed by the SIFMA Foundation’s Nancy Kahn, who gave the teacher a $50 gift card and a data-storing pen.

“This is a huge accomplishment,” Nancy said of Jeff’s string of essay winners. “He’s an amazing teacher. The kids love him. He’s doing something right.”  The purpose of the stock market game and essay contest, she explained, is to teach students the basics of finance: “How to save, how to invest, how to work in teams.”

Jeff said he was thrilled for Juliette, who tends to be on the quiet side. “This is such a great thing for her,” he said.

What advice does Juliette have for other young investors?

“The stock market is all basically about luck,” she said. “So all you really need to do is trust in what you do, and find as much research as you can to make you think, ‘Oh, this is a really good stock.'”

Our money is on Juliette.

Text of Juliette LaMontagne’s Winning Essay:

Winning the Battle of the Stock Market

Choosing a stock is like developing a war plan to win a battle. You make a plan and hope it works. Just like the general who organizes the winning strategy in a war, an investor has to put forth a good plan to find an excellent stock and hope it is successful. Every investor prefers a way to choose an investment to win this huge battle. For example some investors simply just type in their personal initials in the stock quote box to see if it is a publicly traded company. If it is, they buy blindly and without any true knowledge of the company. Others get advice from a trusted friend, but there are better ways to choose a winning stock. Using market capitalization, Beta indicators, and studying technical analysis, these recession-proof strategies make finding a winning stock a little easier. After careful consideration, Starbucks is a great investment.

Every investor or warrior is different. Some are older and conservative, while others are young and more of a risk taker. For others, they fall right in the middle making them a blend of both. Using the company’s market capitalization value can help to decide if the stock is right for you. Starbucks has a market cap of 33.03 billon dollars. This is a good sign for the more conservative investor because lower market capitalization companies tend to be riskier. Lower market caps might be good for aggressive investors with more time to regain their losses. Beta is a number that measures the amount of risk. They compare the stock to the 500 biggest companies. Starbucks’ Beta is 1.35; this means it is not that risky. It also means that the battle ahead is not too bad. For these reasons, Starbucks is a great stock for me to own.

What happens when the 50, 100 and 200 moving day averages are layered like soldiers in a battle field with reinforcements waiting on the sidelines? It means that it is an excellent time to buy! Currently, Starbucks 50, 100, and 200 moving day averages remind me of an invincible army with many layers of warriors. With the 50 on top, the 100 in the middle, and finally the 200 layered perfectly on the bottom, it screams “charge” to the experienced investor. Starbucks’ current price is bouncing off of the 50 day average like the soldiers on the front line. This shows a great time to win the battle and invest in Starbucks.

In hard economic times, during recessions, some industries/companies are recession-proof, which means people still demand their products. After all, the soldiers still need their coffee to stay awake in the battle. It is one of those things they cannot sacrifice in the heat of the battle. This makes Starbucks recession-proof or bullet proof. Knowing this information provides investors an added weapon to use to their advantage. They now know that Starbucks stock and business is not going to fall in the war of the stock market. That early morning coffee or night time hot chocolate is what makes the day warm and happy for consumers.

In conclusion, applying market capitalization figures, studying Beta volatility numbers, analyzing technical analysis, and using recession-proof strategies reveal that Starbucks is a great buy. Their market capitalization values and Beta are showing greatness. The 50, 100 and 200 moving day averages are excelling, and they continue to demonstrate that they can flourish even in hard economic times. Using this information can enable any investor to win the battle of choosing stocks. My mom might say I am too young for coffee, but that is not going to stop me from buying Starbucks’ amazing stock! I will win the battle and get rich along the way.




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  1. Fantastic essay Juliette!! What a great award! Congratulations to you, your teacher, and your family. Write On!