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Mission Possible

Stories and insights on excellent education.

I love math. I love math so much that I’m enrolled in honors math classes at Success Academy Bed Stuy Middle School and participate in Math Olympiad. Studying math allows me to figure out solutions to interesting problems — answering a word problem correctly is like figuring out a puzzle! But recently, I’ve been able to take my love of math in a whole new, real-world direction thanks to a new elective at my school: Financial Markets.

In this class, Mr. McNeely — who used to work in finance — has us role-play as financial analysts for a fund called “BSMS Capital Partners.” As analysts, at the mock hedge fund, we are learning how to manage a portfolio of companies and track the performance of different sectors over time. We track the sector’s results in spreadsheets and make predictions about a stock’s future performance based on how well it did in the past. To do this, we have to apply math concepts that we’re learning in class, like calculating percent change over time. We also receive an imaginary paycheck each week from Mr. McNeely, and we can choose how to spend our money. I’ve been investing in different stocks — and of course, doing research on which ones are doing well right now. Not many people get to learn about finance when they’re in sixth grade!

Last Friday, my classmates and I had an amazing opportunity — we got to ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange! The closing bell stops financial trading every weekday at 4:00pm.

There was so much excitement on the trading floor at the NYSE. It was fascinating to see stock performances change in real time on the TV and computer monitors, while traders huddle around the screens to follow every move the market makes. The sector I’m following for class is discretionary consumer goods, which includes companies like PepsiCo and Hershey — and I could see both of these companies stock performances live on the screens, right before trading closed. As 4:00pm approached and trading was about to stop, we saw stock brokers gathered around computers, poised to make their final trades of the day — many were on their phones shouting their decisions to clients. That day, the Dow Jones Industrial average closed at a near-record high of 20,000 points! I think a lot of people there were happy about that.

Editor’s Note:

Skye Flores and SA Bed Stuy Middle School principal Rishabh Agarwal were interviewed by a reporter from the NYSE. Rishabh talked about why Success Academy schools are so successful and Skye spoke about her experience in Mr. McNeely’s financial markets class. You can watch that interview here.