Cougars of Wall Street? Canby High Students Gamble (Fictional) Millions in Stock Market Challenge

Conventional wisdom may say you need fancy things like “experience” and “know-how” and “real money” to invest in the stock market, but hey — conventional wisdom never saw the coronavirus coming, now did it?

With the real markets plunging in the wake of global fears over the outbreak of COVID-19, 23 Canby High School students got a crash course on financial trading last week at the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge.

Held last Thursday at Camp Withycombe, the Challenge is an exciting, hands-on simulation that puts participants into the fast-paced world of the stock market, giving participants the chance to buy and sell stock in fictitious companies and then watch their investments pay off (or not) over the course of a 60-day simulation.

Sort of like the classic board game Monopoly except, you know, this is fun, and doesn’t take 60 actual days to complete.


The students were part of the Dollars and Sense class, a general elective for students interested in learning more about business and personal finance through Canby High’s Career and Technical Education Program. CHS business teacher and Future Business Leaders of America adviser Tonya Boustead said the six Canby students joined almost 400 who participated from five other schools.

“It was an interesting time in history for students to jump into the stock market and a great learning experience,” Boustead said, alluding to some of the volatility the markets are currently experiencing. “CHS students learn about banking, budgeting, investing, credit and income taxes in the Dollars and Sense class.”

To prepare for the competition, students participate in a short course called “Take Stock in Your Future,” consisting of two 45-minute classroom lessons taught by volunteers about individual equities, the impact of the economy, geopolitical events, and market sentiment. Following the completion of the two sessions and a practice simulation, students form four- to five-member Stock Market Challenge teams.

The day of the competition, each team starts with $1 million in fictitious funds to buy stock in 26 mock companies. An opening bell rings, and the market opens, with every 90 seconds simulating a complete trading day.

“Over the next two hours, participants must think on their feet and compete for the attention of floor traders as they make trades in real time,” the website for the Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge reads. “Trading is fast, fun, and furious! The team with the highest net worth portfolio at the end of 60 trading days will be crowned the Stock Market Challenge Champion.”

The Junior Achievement Stock Market Challenge partners with educators teaching classes in a variety of subject areas. Junior Achievement staff coordinate to provide a volunteer for the classroom portion of the event and other ongoing support. The program is offered to schools at no cost thanks to the support of sponsors such as Bank of America.

Photos courtesy Tonya Boustead:

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