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WATCH | Students honored at economics luncheon

by Brandon Smith | May 15, 2023 at 4:03 a.m.
Ron Luckow, humanities instructor at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, talks about the school's stock market team's success this year, while on campus Thursday. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

Several students from the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts attended the Economics Arkansas Student Awards Luncheon on May 4 at the Statehouse Convention Center, where they were recognized and heard a speech from keynote speaker Scott Ford, CEO of Westrock Coffee.

The event, the first to be held in person since 2019, honored the top-performing students across the state for their performance in economic, personal finance and entrepreneurship contests.

This school year, ASMSA placed first in the Arkansas Economics Challenge and the Personal Finance Challenge. It was a finalist in the National Personal Finance Challenge, a semifinalist in the National Economics Challenge, and won first place in both the Spring and Fall Stock Market Games.

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The students will next compete in the 2023 National Personal Finance Challenge in Cleveland, Ohio, June 4-5.

Economics Arkansas is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan, educational organization that promotes economic literacy in Arkansas. It trains Pre K-12 teachers how to incorporate principles of economics and personal finance into their classrooms.

The statewide economics challenge, which ASMSA has won the last three years, is a competition for high school students that consists of three components -- a testing portion, a writing submission, and team presentations. Students display their knowledge of micro and macroeconomics as well as the global economy.

ASMSA humanities instructor and adviser to the Stock Market Game team, Ron Luckow, said he is extremely proud of his students.

"I think they've put in a lot of work, because, not only can I see that based on the grades they're getting -- I'm literally monitoring this, and charting it, giving points and stuff -- but also some of my students are better than I am investing, honestly," he said.

Luckow cited ASMSA student Christian Lu, who won state in the Stock Market Game.

"He literally doubled his money. The stock market game is emulated, like a simulation of the actual stock market. So if you can double your money in the Stock Market Game, because the stocks are performing, they're mirroring how they're performing in the real world, if he would have had that money and invested it in the real world, he would have doubled his money in 10 weeks. He went from like $100,000 to, actually I think it was a little bit over $200,000, within a 10-week span of dabbling and investing in the stock market, which is phenomenal," he said.

Students in his economics courses compete in the game as an alternative assessment, or major project, for the course.

"I would add that for this year, I think it's even more impressive because the stock market has not been good for betting on stocks to go up in value," said Carl Frank, ASMSA computer science instructor and Personal Finance Challenge adviser.

"Certainly I would echo I'm extremely proud. ... In terms of the Economics Challenge the last few years, several teams do well. I do know that in my situation, they're largely doing it extracurricular along with their other course work and extracurricular activities. They're finding time to prepare and do these competitions, and so it really shows that they are kind of well-rounded and got some time-management skills so they can kind of do everything that they do."

Echoing Luckow, he said that in certain areas, students are even more gifted than some of the teachers.

"It's very impressive," he said. "Last year on the Stock Market Game side, I had a student compete like three semesters in a row. His junior year he got first place in our area, and he kind of thought it might be a fluke. So he did it again the next semester and won, and he thought, 'Well, OK, maybe I'm kind of good at this.' And so he not only won three consecutive semesters, but as Ron said, one of our students won, not just in our region, but overall in the state," he said.

"And the national organization had taken notice of my student last year because he turned that $100,000 of virtual dollars into like $1.8 million. They kept thinking there might be a computer glitch. He was doing so well, it wasn't just best in Arkansas, it was like best everywhere kind of thing."

Frank, as the school's Future Business Leaders of America sponsor, will be taking nine students to the FBLA 2023 National Leadership Conference in Atlanta from June 27-30.

  photo  Carl Frank, Computer science instructor at the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts, who serves as Personal Finance Challenge adviser, talks about his teams recent accomplishments in the recent Arkansas Economics competitions. - Photo by Donald Cross of The Sentinel-Record

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