- Katherine Smirnov of Fry Elementary, Naperville, IL wins national distinction in the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite® essay competition with McGraw Hill Financial.
- InvestWrite, made possible in 2013 and 2014 by McGraw Hill Financial, challenges 4th - 12th graders to analyze investments and recommend portfolio allocations targeting financial goals.
- Katherine Smirnov is among 20,000 students nationwide who take the InvestWrite challenge each year, developing the personal financial savvy needed to make real-world financial decisions.
- Smirnov and teacher Sharon Phares will be recognized at an event at Fry Elementary in Naperville, IL on February 20, 2014. The event will be attended by students, faculty, parents, community members, competition judges and representatives of EconIllinois and the SIFMA Foundation.
Naperville, IL, February 20, 2014 – It takes years to build up the financial savvy to navigate the markets. But Katherine Smirnov is decades ahead of the game. She just won distinction as the first place national winner in the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite® essay competition with McGraw Hill Financial. Smirnov, a fifth grader at Fry Elementary, Naperville, IL claims this recognition in the elementary school division in the Fall 2013 competition.
The SIFMA Foundation's InvestWrite competition, launched in 2004 is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. The program, made possible in 2013 and 2014 by McGraw Hill Financial, challenges 4th - 12th grade students to analyze an investment scenario and recommend portfolio allocations targeting short- and long-term financial goals. The competition serves as a culminating activity for nearly 600,000 students nationwide who compete in The Stock Market Game™ program each year.
InvestWrite invites students to develop the personal financial savvy needed to make real-world financial decisions with confidence and a deeper understanding of opportunities, consequences, and benefits. Students consider real-world economic events and trends, conduct research online, develop investment recommendations and, in the process, gain the skills to prepare for their own financial future. They work in groups during the Stock Market Game program but then write essays individually about their experience. Smirnov is one of 20,000 students across the nation who take the InvestWrite challenge each year.
In her essay, Smirnov imagined she was making a presentation about investing. She describes the research and analysis she used to help her make the decision to purchase Boeing and Microsoft. She employed several research tools including online and written publications. Yahoo Finance is her website of choice as it gave her charts, trends and real time news. “The first company that is an attractive investment to me is Boeing (ticker symbol BA). One reason to invest in Boeing is because it is a stable company that has been in business for almost one hundred years. They have always paid dividends to investors. Also, Boeing makes a lot of profit and their stock price went up for the last five years. When the charts and graphs show the stock price dropping, it steadily creates a new 52 week range.”
The Fall 2013 winning InvestWrite essay composed by Smirnov was chosen through rigorous judging by thousands of teachers and industry professionals who evaluate students’ understanding of asset allocation, the stock market, and factors that drive investments as well as their expression of investment ideas in essay form.
"Teaching students at a very young age the basics of finance and the stock market is essential to their broad education and to being well-informed investors later in life,” said Douglas L. Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer of McGraw Hill Financial. “As financial markets become more complex and more global, investors of all ages can benefit from learning how to save, spend and earn money wisely—what we call ‘financial essentials.’ We are delighted to support the SIFMA Foundation and congratulate Katherine on this achievement.”
“SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game and InvestWrite are transformative programs that prepare students like Katherine for college, career and life,” said Melanie Mortimer, Executive Director of the SIFMA Foundation. “Our students do measurably better on math, economics and personal finance tests. They also learn to work in teams, manage change, monitor and analyze the impact of global business and economic activity, and become smart consumers. We are proud to partner with McGraw Hill Financial and applaud their longstanding commitment to providing young people a better understanding of the capital markets and a better future.”
The SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite competition bridges classroom learning in mathematics, social studies, language arts, business and economics with the practical research and knowledge required for long-term personal financial planning. Students are, in fact, building on what they have learned through their participation in the Stock Market Game, which has reached more than 15 million students since its inception in 1977.
An independent study by Learning Point Associates found that students who participated in the Stock Market Game scored significantly higher on mathematics and financial literacy tests than their peers who did not participate. They also found that teachers who taught the Stock Market Game reported that the program motivated them to better plan for their own financial futures. The Stock Market Game has been named the only program that successfully increased scores on the Jumpstart Coalition’s test of high school students’ financial literacy. The Spring 2014 InvestWrite program is open to teachers and students registered in the Stock Market Game. The session is currently underway and runs through April 23, 2014. Teachers can find the essay questions and information they need to participate at www.investwrite.org.
The SIFMA Foundation’s Stock Market Game and InvestWrite programs are delivered in Illinois by EconIllinois. Smirnov competes in ballet, contemporary, lyrical and jazz styles of dance. She plays viola in the school orchestra and loves to ski. She is quite an entrepreneur and has mini-businesses that she runs. She makes and sells wallets from duct tape and ribbon bracelets. She has her own business cards and maintains an income statement for each of her businesses. Phares has taught for 31 years. She was awarded the "Star in the Classroom" award in 2009 by 3M and recognized with the EconIllinois "Outstanding Economic Educator" award in 2010. She has participated in the Stock Market Game programs since early 2000. Sharon is an outstanding educator that challenges her students’ critical thinking skills every day.
Smirnov and Phares will be recognized at an event at Fry Elementary on Thursday, February 20 at 2:00 PM CT. The event will be attended by students, faculty, parents, community members, competition judges and representatives of EconIllinois and the SIFMA Foundation.
Text of Katherine Smirnov Winning Essay: Flying Toward the Future
Hi. This is Financial Joe from the show “Good Morning, Investors,” on this wonderful Monday morning! Today, we will be talking about what we should invest in and what companies to invest in for the long term – let’s say for the next 10 years. People may have different reasons to save for the future. Personally, I’d like to save some initial capital to open up my own company. The reason why I made such choice is because I enjoy doing things I like and making my own decisions. A newly opened company needs an initial investment because it will have start-up costs, such as renovation of the building, advertising, salary expenses and cost of supplies. I estimate that I would need about $100,000 to start up my own business. I would invest my savings in individual stocks.
The first company that is an attractive investment to me is Boeing (ticker symbol BA). One reason to invest in Boeing is because it is a stable company that has been in business for almost one hundred years. They have always paid dividends to investors. Also, Boeing makes a lot of profit and their stock price went up for the last five years. When the charts and graphs show the stock price dropping, it steadily creates a new 52 week range. Recently, the stock price got a boost when the company received large orders for the new Boeing 777X airplane at the Dubai Air Show. This news increased the stock price because Boeing will make more profit from those sales. The reason the stock price could drop is because Boeing might have a problem with a part on their airplanes. If this happens, many people might sue Boeing or try to sell the stock at the same time. For example, when Boeing’s 777 crashed in San Francisco about 6 months ago the stock price dropped 4.69%, but after only one week it went up and above the previous high.
Another company I‘d like to invest in is Microsoft (MSFT). A reason why I picked it is because Microsoft is a different industry from Boeing, which would add to a diversified investment portfolio. This helps to reduce risk because if Microsoft stock does well or poorly, it won’t affect Boeing’s stock since they are not competitors. Also, Microsoft has a monopoly on computer operating systems. Microsoft has a strong Balance Sheet - they have a lot of cash and little debt. Another reason why I would recommend Microsoft is because they recently bought a phone company, Nokia. Microsoft can make many improvements to Nokia phones and it will create a potential for the future stock growth.
I used several resources for my research. The most helpful resource that I used was the Yahoo Finance website. It provides a lot of great information about publicly traded companies. I used Yahoo Finance to find out current stock prices, to see if the stock prices are rising or dropping, and to look at the historical charts. I also researched financial statements and read news about my companies using this resource. Another great resource that I used was a book called The Totally Awesome Money Book for Kids. It helped me get ideas for what I should save for, like retirement and college expenses, and all available options, such as stocks, bonds and mutual funds, to achieve the long term investment goals.
It’s been great talking to you guys, but unfortunately, that will be all for now. If you can’t join us tomorrow, be sure to check back in with me, Financial Joe, in about 10 years to see how my new start up business is going! We’ll see you next time on “Good Morning, Investors” talking about what the world would be like if there wasn’t a stock market.