The following was submitted by Kennedy Middle School Secretary Kelly Del Debbio:
The results are in! Mark Murdy, an 8th grade student at Kennedy Middle School in Plantsville, is the first place Connecticut state winner of the SIFMA Foundation’s InvestWrite student essay competition, sponsored by the SIFMA Foundation and SIFMA member firms.
Murdy claims top prize for the middle school division in the Fall 2012 competition.
As a culminating activity for the country’s 600,000 annual Stock Market Game participants, InvestWrite challenges 4th - 12th graders to analyze an investment scenario and write an essay offering investment advice. 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. Mark Murdy is one of 20,000 students each year across the nation who take the InvestWrite challenge.
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In his essay, Murdy was asked to take on the role of a business reporter who writes for a newspaper or blog. His assignment was to announce a news-breaking event and its impact on a company's stock or bond. As a Wall Street Journal reporter, Murdy wrote about Facebook and its amazing ability to earn 450 million dollars in advertising revenue by putting ads on profiles based on the search habits of its users. The success of this Facebook Exchange has caused a steady increase in Facebook's stock.
Murdy writes, "This development has been successful. Facebook’s ads are gaining more attention from users, and with the growth of electronics and online shopping on the rise, the ads are almost irresistible."
The Fall 2012 winning InvestWrite essay composed by Murdy was chosen through rigorous judging by thousands of teachers and industry professionals who evaluate students’ analysis of asset allocation, the investment potential of various publicly traded stocks, the students’ overall understanding of the stock market, and the manner in which they express their investment ideas in essay form.
“InvestWrite and the Stock Market Game program require students like Mark to monitor daily global market activity, business trends, and economic factors that drive investments to determine the growth potential of industries, companies, asset classes and specific stocks, bonds, and mutual funds,” said Melanie Mortimer, Executive Director of the SIFMA Foundation. “They are then asked to make sophisticated, thoughtful recommendations that reflect what is expected of college and career-ready students.”
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 14 million students since its inception in 1977. Participants master the fundamentals of personal finance, investing and economics as early as fourth grade and become active and engaged learners, seeking out new information, applications, and connections in their daily lives.
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 the program motivated them to better plan for their future and to engage in financial planning, research, and use of investment products and services. 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.
Murdy excels in math, science, and writing as evidenced by: his achieving first honors in every term since sixth grade; being a two-time winner of the school's Young Author's Competition; his membership in Math Counts, the National Junior Honors, and the newspaper club. Murdy is also a very talented musician who plays the viola in various orchestras, and performs publicly playing the guitar and piano. In addition to this being Murdy's second year in a row winning first place in the Connecticut InvestWrite competition, last year he also achieved second place in the nation.
Elizabeth Sterner, Murdy's teacher, has been teaching for the past 24 years. She is the math curriculum leader, Stock Market Club advisor, and one of the Game Club advisors.
Sterner and Murdy will be recognized by the SIFMA Foundation at a surprise presentation in front of the students and faculty of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Plantsville, on Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 3:00 PM. The event will include a special presentation of the SIFMA Foundation award by Aaron M. Scott, Senior Managing Director, RBC Wealth Management, Hartford.
Text of Mark Murdy's Winning Essay:
As a business reporter, I would like to work for the Wall Street Journal newspaper. I became aware of this company when SIFMA gave my school a year-long subscription to the paper. In addition, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) is the largest newspaper in the country by circulation. Besides essential journalist characteristics (being the first to report on trends and events, having experience, etc.), I found that there are also corporate traits that may help to increase my salary: big presses with bigger revenues are more likely to give higher wages to reporters than smaller companies can give. Thus, I looked for the largest newspapers in the U.S. At 2,293,798 newspapers distributed, WJS beats its nearest competitors: USA Today (1,713,833 newspapers distributed) and the New York Times (1,613,865 newspapers distributed). Not only does it have the largest newspaper circulation in the U.S., but WSJ’s headquarters are located in New York. This is much closer to my home state of Connecticut than its nearest competitor, USA Today, located in Virginia. While the also have their headquarters in New York, WSJ is a bigger company, and I would resort to that corporation for a job.
Facebook Perfects its Advertising Business February 17th, 2013
Facebook’s stock is at its best since it went public on May 18th, and the cause is its “perfection” (quote from CEO Mark Zuckerberg) in its advertising industry. Facebook is the world’s largest social network with over 900 million users. This site helps families and friends communicate with each other. It also helps businesses advertise their products and services. After becoming one of the most popular sites on the web, many users and investors were thrilled when the company stated that it would go public.
When Facebook went public, many investors were invigorated. Its IPO (initial public offering) was priced at $38 a share, and with 421 million stocks planned to sell, the value of the company was $104 billion. However, when the stock opened, thousands of investors were faced with losses as the stock immediately began to lose value. In the six months that the stock has been public, it has failed to meet its IPO. It also faced a record low in September when the stock fell to $17.55 a share. Since the opening day, Facebook has literally faced a downhill plummet. As a result of the many lawsuits filed against it by disappointed investors in its horrible stock, the social network was in a dreadful scenario. However, the company had one last trick up its sleeve: advertising. Facebook does not sell any products, and it is free for users to sign up and interact. Nevertheless, the company still generates over half a billion dollars annually. So, how does such a profitable company get its profit? Its key is advertising. Both big and small businesses can invest in ads to be presented on this popular site. Ads can also be shown for different products that a person may buy. This sector alone generates $450 million of its profit. Now, this sector is at its best.
Facebook Exchange is the most successful contributor to the company’s advertising industry. Originally, this was a way for Facebook to trade information with other sites on what products a user may have viewed online. Using that information, Facebook can display an ad for a product that may have been viewed on one’s page. Now, this process is much more dynamic. Facebook can now track and group what one is viewing, and use other factors such as age, gender, profession, relationship status, profile key words, holidays, etc. to determine what category of products a user is likely to buy. Facebook can then put ads on one’s profile, ranging from clothes, electronics, and others. “This renovation in the Facebook Exchange was essential to the company’s success,” says Zuckerberg. “I’ve spent plenty of time planning this with the advertising department, and it’s no secret that this was our biggest card to play.” This development has been successful. Facebook’s ads are gaining more attention from users, and with the growth of electronics and online shopping on the rise, the ads are almost irresistible. Sherry Nellin, a frequent Facebook user, agrees, “Last year, I didn’t even notice the ads that were shown in the side bar,” she says. “Now, I see an ad for a tie and think ‘That’ll be perfect for my husband!’” This has had other successes as well. With the company’s growth accelerating and its advertising popularity noticeably increased, more businesses are investing in advertising campaigns on the site.
Finally, Facebook’s stock is on the rise. In a period starting in late December, 2012, the stock has begun a steady increase. Starting at $23.56 a share, the price has grown. As of yesterday, the stock is now priced at $35 a share. “Facebook will soon rise above its IPO,” says investor Warren Buffet. “My advice is to get some of the stock as early as possible and get your money’s worth.”
The SIFMA Foundation is dedicated to fostering knowledge and understanding of the financial markets for individuals of all backgrounds. Drawing on the support and expertise of the financial industry, the SIFMA Foundation provides financial education programs and tools that strengthen economic opportunities across communities and increase individuals' access to the benefits of the global marketplace. Notable Foundation programs include The Stock Market Game, which has enabled more than 14 million students become financially literate, the InvestWrite national essay competition (www.investwrite.org), and the Capitol Hill Challenge. For more information on the SIFMA Foundation, visit www.sifma.org/foundation.
The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) brings together the shared interests of hundreds of securities firms, banks and asset managers. SIFMA's mission is to support a strong financial industry, investor opportunity, capital formation, job creation and economic growth, while building trust and confidence in the financial markets. SIFMA, with offices in New York and Washington, D.C., is the U.S. regional member of the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA). For more information, visit http://www.sifma.org.
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