8th graders win on Carnival ‘stock’


A team of eighth-grade STEM students at Neshoba Central Middle School took top regional honors in the Mississippi Stock Market Game, earning about $30,000 in virtual game cash.

The four-person team, coached by Nathan Sistrunk, captured the first place Region 4 award in the fall middle school division of the Stock Market Game, sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation.

Over 80 teams competed in the game on the state level.

The program enables teams of students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 in the stock market over a 13-week period. Winners were determined on the percentage return above or below S&P 500 growth. 

The Neshoba Central team outperformed the S&P by 31.4 percent.

Sistrunk was impressed by his team’s hard work and dedication to the online competition.

“Our largest gain was in our Carnival Cruise stock,” he said. “It dropped way down and we bought in at $11. It was up to $22 a stock at the end of the competition.”

Neshoba County Superintendent of Education Lundy Brantley said he was very proud of Sistrunk and his students.

“These are outstanding skills for the students to have as lifelong skills," he said.

This was the second year for Sistrunk to have a team in the competition.

Two of his teams placed in the top three last year.

“This year’s team did a lot of research-based learning because they needed to know which stocks were going up and what technology was coming out,” Sistrunk said. “They looked for something that was going to grow and make more money.”

They called their team the Refrigerator. 

While no one really benefitted financially from the competition, Sistrunk said it was not only a fun experience for the team but an educational one as well.

“It was a real-world experience for them especially during a pandemic,” he said. “They got to see how events affect our country and our people financially.”

During last year’s competition, one of Sistrunk’s teams invested heavily in Zoom after the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“Zoom stock sky rocketed because of Covid in 2020,” Sistrunk said. “The teams learned how real-world situations, like a pandemic, an ice storm and even a presidential change, affect the stock market.”

After the competition, Sistrunk and his team continued to follow the Stock Market.

“We talked about how bad stocks were affected when the ice storm hit this year,” he said. “It had a correlation between the ice storm and a presidential change.”

This year’s team captain Kaydee Myers said she gained valuable knowledge of the Stock Market during the competition.

“I didn’t know what we were doing when we first started,” she said. “It was confusing. Now it’s like watching the market and managing what we are doing. Having the responsibility to check the market all the time was a lot of fun.”

Team member Jacey Shotts said it was important for the team to pay attention to how the stocks changed day by day.

“When the ice storm happened, stocks just plummeted,” she said. “If you don’t pay attention, you could lose a lot of money.”

Shotts learned a lot about the market during the competition.

“If it comes to a point where, one day, I have to do something like this, I think I will know how to do it,” she said.

Payton Gipson enjoyed following the companies the team invested in such as Tesla and Zoom.

“Tesla stayed steady going up,” she said. “Zoom did terribly. I think because everybody started back to school so Zoom went down. Not as many people really used it after that.”

Gipson enjoyed the competitive side of the game.

“It was fun to go on the web and see what everyone was doing,” she said. 

She thinks the experience will prove beneficial to her when she is older.

“This really will be a good thing to know about in the future,” she said.

The fourth team member was Hayden Barrett. 

The Stock Market simulation is one of the most effective learning tools available about the free enterprise system for students in grades four through 12, officials said.

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