For immediate release - December 8, 2010
For more information contact:
Jo Ann Murray
Project Director
Invest Ed® STARS
(405) 325-6882
Amy Sanders
Events Coordinator
Invest Ed® STARS
(405) 325-7452

NORMAN, OK – The Invest Ed® “Students Tracking and Researching the Stock Market” (STARS) unbiased investment education program recognized its fall winners at an awards ceremony held December 4 on the University of Oklahoma campus. The project challenges high school students to learn the importance of investing as a long-range tool, securities fraud awareness, and time value of money. The December 4 event was the eleventh semi-annual awards ceremony for the Invest Ed® program and its second-largest fall participation of 1,534 Oklahoma high school students.

Report winners representing six regions and one overall state winner are honored each semester. Congratulations to the fall 2010 winners: Victoria Frazier, freshman, Mount St. Mary High School, Central region; Ashley Hale, senior, Grove High School, NE; Tori Brack, senior, Weatherford High School, NW; Logan Wright, freshman, Blanchard High School, SE; Colleen Gaasbeck, senior, Lawton Eisenhower High School, SW; Laura Graver and Elyssa Szkirpan, seniors, Union High School, Tulsa county; Makala Cole, senior, Seiling High School, STATE winner.

Six of the winning teachers along with two administrators were in attendance Saturday. Marquita Seifried, state report winning teacher from Seiling High School, commented on the Invest Ed® STARS program, “I think I speak for all of the teachers here, that we’re here because we have a passion. We don’t want a single student to leave the classroom without financial literacy. We don’t want them to get into credit card debt. We know that investing has to be a part of their financial portfolio. And, third, we don’t want them to be taken advantage of when they get out there and they do get to invest. I am so thankful that this program exists… Thank you so much for fighting for this; it’s really important.” Her student and state winner Makala Cole followed, “I know how much my teacher enjoys everything she does. She teaches with passion. When she taught, she taught with heart, and I just wanted to thank all of you who made it possible for her to be here.”

In her opening remarks, STARS Project Director Jo Ann Murray affirmed, “Invest Ed® is the answer to the question, ‘Who is going to teach today’s high school students how to prepare for their financial futures?’” Student participants researched stocks, decided which stocks to buy, and completed a risk assessment. Students set investment goals, created an online portfolio, and tracked results. At the end of the tracking period, students prepared a report detailing their investment process and explained what they learned. Winners are selected based on their reports rather than ending values of their portfolios.

Ripple-effect student benefits reported by participating teachers include improved critical thinking, math, and research skills; additionally, students practice setting goals, meeting deadlines, and writing reports. Participating students are experiencing the impact of compound interest and opportunity cost. Participating students are opening savings accounts, buying CDs, and starting Roth IRAs.

Murray referred to Irving Faught, Administrator for the Oklahoma Securities Commission, saying “This program is Irving’s vision. He is the one person who is truly responsible for each and every one of us being here today.” “Without Irving’s passion and support, there would be no program. And the support of the Oklahoma Securities Commission staff is critical as well.” Faught spoke in his keynote address, “More importantly than the focus of a specific discipline is the training that both the teachers and the students get in what I like to think as a learning process. It is a process; it is not a game. We encourage the students to understand both the strengths and weaknesses of their efforts that are revealed in the reports.”

Nine-time winning teacher from Weatherford High School Bob Bailey commented to the Invest Ed® staff, “You all see the cream of the crop of the awards, but we see them all. And, we all see each student take one or two things from that class and it will stick with them for their whole lives.” His thanks were seconded by Sharon Edelen from Blanchard High School, first-time winning teacher, “I love this program! I think that I have seen tremendous leaps and bounds in the education and the experience of my students in being involved in this program.”

Grove High School senior Ashley Hale stood to thank the Invest Ed® staff. Hale went on to thank her teacher, who was unable to attend the event, along with all of the teachers who were present. “I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity of being part of this program, and the opportunity to learn more about the stock market, because I didn’t know anything about [it].”

Randy Doerneman, Invest Ed® Project Manager and OU Center for Independent and Distance Learning Director, closed the ceremony with a few comments. In his address, he thanked all staff and guests, stressing the value of the support of teachers and administrators.

Invest Ed® is managed by the Center for Independent and Distance Learning within University of Oklahoma Outreach, College of Continuing Education and the Oklahoma Securities Commission. Since its inception in 2003, 976 Oklahoma teachers have been trained, and 13,921 students have participated. A new semester begins January 2010.

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Invest Ed® is an unbiased, non-profit investment education program with the sole objective of increasing Oklahoman's investment knowledge and fraud protection. This multi-faceted investment literacy education program is made possible by the Oklahoma Securities Commission and produced by the University of Oklahoma OUTREACH ~ College of Continuing Education.