Fifth-graders continue proud investing tradition in Morristown

Adam Bain and Vaughn Hayes walked away with balloons, trophies, gift certificates and, above all, pride. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Adam Bain and Vaughn Hayes walked away with balloons, trophies, gift certificates and, above all, pride. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
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By Maryanne Saxon

Lads and lassies… it’s true, it’s true! Pots of gold can be found at the end of the rainbow. But according to two  fifth graders from the Thomas Jefferson School, it has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with good investments and the willingness to take some risks.

Adam Bain proudly accepts a photo after learning of his award. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Adam Bain proudly poses for a photo after learning of his award. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

TJ Titan Adam Bain finished first in the state during the fall semester’s SIFMA Elementary School InvestWrite  competition. His essay also came in fourth in the national contest.

Classmate Vaughn Hayes finished ninth in the national competition.

Thomas Jefferson students, staff and parents of the winners gathered earlier this month at an assembly to recognize the boys’ achievements.

It was a family affair: (from left) Alice, Marshal, Little Bro Nate and Adam Bain; center teacher Jeff Brown; Ellen, Vaughn and dad Bill Hayes. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
It was a family affair: (from left) Alice, Marshal, Little Bro Nate and Adam Bain; center teacher Jeff Brown; Ellen, Vaughn and dad Bill Hayes. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

Esi Gillo, a representative of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Foundation (SIFMA), took to the podium to announce the winners and hand out the awards.

I am always blown away by just how much students that have used one or more of our programs actually know,” Gillo said.

The high-level essays that students write for the InvestWrite program are a testament to how transformative financial education can be for young people as they begin to make sense of the world around them, and I am glad to be part of that.”

During the fall semester, Jeff Brown’s Quest class for gifted and talented students participated in SIFMA’s  Stock Market Game. Pupils from all over the country worked in teams to invest a virtual $100,000 in common stocks, mutual funds and bonds. The project culminated with the InvestWrite competition.

Esi Gillo smiles as Adam contemplates how he will invest his $200 in gift certificate awards. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Esi Gillo smiles as Adam Bain contemplates how he will invest his $200 in gift certificate awards. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

The contest challenged students in grades 4-12 to analyze an investment scenario and recommend portfolio allocations targeting short- and longterm financial goals. Nationwide, more than 8,140 students wrote essays; 2953 of them were submitted for InvestWrite judging. Two of the essays came from the TJ Titans.

InvestWrite prompted students from across the country to “help Save Melissa’s Piggy Bank.” After years of stuffing her bank with coins and bills, the little porker was ready to burst. Elementary students were asked to help Melissa move from being an excellent saver to an excellent investor.

Adam Bain offered “magical advice” in his award-winning response.

Think of the stock market as a rainbow. You may not be able to see the end clearly now, but by investing wisely, you may find a pot of gold,” he wrote.

Master Bain advised potential investors to look for high dividends, diversity and growth-centered trading in the Stock Market Game. This young money manager encouraged Melissa to empty her overstuffed piggy into well-known companies like Johnson and Johnson.

“Look around your house, I am sure you will find many J&J products.”

Although his essay was peppered with images of rainbows and the promise of gold…. Adam’s future financial success won’t come from idly skipping down any yellow brick road. Based on his essay response, the profits he discovers over the rainbow will come as a result of research and dependable moneymaking strategies.

When the students become the masters (from left): Adam Bain, Teacher Jeff Brown and Vaughan Hayes enjoy their hard earned success. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
When the students become the masters (from left): Adam Bain, Teacher Jeff Brown and Vaughn Hayes enjoy their hard earned success. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

Finishing ninth in the U.S. contest, fifth-grader Vaughn Hayes recommended a more cautious investing approach. No rainbows and gold for this money manager. In his essay, Vaughn’s interpretation of the stock market was similar to walking across a stream on a rotten log:

On the other side of the log awaits a perfect place for a picnic, but getting there will not be easy.”

Mr. Hayes proceeded to warn potential investors to avoid burning profits on materialist possessions. He believes investors should never miss the opportunity to reinvest and earn a higher return.

During the project, Brown’s Quest class even budgeted their recess time to research stock options and fine-tune their writing styles.

I was thrilled to have two national winners in the fall competition.  They are both extremely deserving and learned a very valuable lesson… hard work pays off!  I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments,” said the beaming teacher.

Before beginning the Stock Market Game, Brown told his students how he became involved in the world of investments and mutual funds.

Like so many great business deals, Brown’s began on a golf course. Newly married, the young teacher was enjoying a day with his father and musing about entering the next stage of life.

“Pay yourself FIRST,” were the words his dad shared, inspiring Brown to embark on the world of dividends and returns.

Call it the trickle-down effect in action: Guidance passed down through two generations of the Brown family now helps lead Thomas Jefferson students.

Adam Bain and Vaughn Hayes walked away with balloons, trophies, gift certificates and, above all, pride. Photo by Maryanne Saxon
Adam Bain and Vaughn Hayes walked away with balloons, trophies, gift certificates and, above all, pride. Photo by Maryanne Saxon

Brown has an enviable track record; Bain and Hayes are just the latest entries on an ever-growing list of future financial investors at the TJ School.

Caroline Hersh won InvestWrite honors in 2008, Callie Sundin in 2011 and Juliette LaMontagne in 2012. If the winners keep piling up, perhaps Brown will trade the classroom for the Shark Tank and a financial power team. Hey, Mark Cuban…you’ve been warned.

I am so proud of all my students who entered essays in the competition,” Brown said. 

“Watching them create a well written, organized, and creative essay from a blank piece of white paper is an exciting process.  I try to compare writing to putting together a jigsaw puzzle. The pieces of a puzzle fit together to create a beautiful picture.  Sometimes, a puzzle piece may not quite fit, so it might take a lot of effort and trial and error to get it right.”

 

ADAM BAIN’S WINNING ESSAY:

Dear Melissa,

Get ready to crack open your money-stuffed piggy bank and unleash what your hard-earned savings are meant for, the amazing world of the stock market! Think of the stock market as a rainbow. You may not be able to see the end clearly now, but by investing wisely, you may find a pot of gold.

Since you are now becoming a long-term investor, you should invest in some stocks that have high dividends. Dividends are the cash rewards you get for purchasing part of that company. Many firms pay you about 2-3% of the share price based on the number of shares you own. This is paid annually.  Stocks with high dividends are often smart choices because the money you receive will help your investments grow even faster.

For example, Verizon (VZ) typically pays a 4.5% dividend reward. If VZ’s stock price is $47, the annual dividend reward is about $2.12 per share. Say you bought 100 shares in that company, the reward would be $212!  Think of all the new stocks that you could buy using these microscopic, but powerful, dividends.

You should also try to diversify your investments. Just like a rainbow is made up of many different colors, your portfolio should be made up of many kinds of stocks. Since there are nine sectors in the stock market, you should choose stocks in a variety of sectors to decrease risk.

For example, say that all of your stocks are in the Technology sector. If there is a very large power outage due to a storm, that sector, and all of your stocks, may go down. If you expand your stock choices, a big hit to one sector will not negatively affect you as much.

Typically, all of the stock market sectors do not go down in one day. If you have your stocks spread out, you will have some gains to offset any losses.

A stock in the Consumer Goods sector I would recommend is Apple (AAPL). Apple has been a strong performer and its stock price seems to get larger and larger every time you take a look at it. In the Healthcare sector, a stock I would consider is Johnson & Johnson (JNJ).  Johnson & Johnson is an established and well-known company with a strong performance history.  Look around your house, I am sure you will find many J&J products!

Another good strategy for long-term investors is growth-centered trading. If you use this strategy wisely, you can turn thousands of dollars into millions.

Growth-centered trading is a strategy in which you invest in either a micro-cap stock or a small-cap stock with the hope that the tiny stock will somehow turn into a mega stock such as Apple. Speaking of Apple, if you were to have invested $100 in Apple when it was a micro-cap, you would now have $11,000!

In growth-centered trading, there is an increased risk, but you might double or triple your investment! Sometimes, it is well worth the risk!  Also, when you purchase a stock, you help both yourself and the company. Higher stock prices can help the company to create more jobs, buy more equipment, develop more products, and so on. That benefits the overall economy.

To sum up this essay, the pot of gold at the end of your rainbow may seem far away but, if you use my investment strategies, it is now closer than ever. If you invest in stocks that have very high dividends, you could use those dividends to invest in even more stocks!!

Second of all, you should expand your stock sector choices between all nine sectors of the stock market, not just bunch them all up into only one or two sectors. Last, but not least, you should definitely use what I think is the best strategy of the three, growth-centered trading. With three great strategies, and one magical rainbow, that pot of gold now seems closer than ever.

Sincerely,
Adam Bain

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