The Adrian Wilcox High School Business Experience Club students in Santa Clara are on the move even while sheltering in place.
The “No New Taxes Remastered” team of four seniors from the club earned first place in the 2020 National Personal Finance Challenge held — for the first time via Zoom — on May 4.
“I’m really proud of all the students in the club. We won the state championship two times in a row. And now the national,” said business teacher Anthony Raffetto, club co-director with retired teacher Janet Armstrong, who started the club about nine years ago.
Including state competitions, the winning seniors competed among 9,316 students from every state. They received the grand award of $8,000.
What do teammates Jonathan Chang, Shaunak Kale, Shivaansh Kapoor and Pratinav Sharma intend to do with the $2,000 each they won?
Invest a chunk of it in their educations, for sure. In the fall, Chang plans to attend UC Berkeley; Kale and Kapoor, UC Santa Barbara; and Sharma, UC Santa Cruz.
Another chunk will go to savings and financial investments.
“It’s most important for young people to understand the time value of money and the power of compounding,” said Kapoor, who was born in India and brought to the U.S. at four.
“The earlier you start saving, investing, putting money into retirement, the more it will grow and compound. Your investment will grow exponentially.”
The students have learned lessons about life as well as personal finances.
“We worked to our strengths, and we learned to work as a team,” said Kapoor, speaking for the team. “The team that will win is the team that works together, even in the face of adversity, and adapts to the new circumstances fastest.”
The team qualified first through objective testing and then live role plays via Zoom. Coached by Armstrong and Raffetto, they debated strategy, honed their presentation and PowerPoint skills, and practiced mock scenarios. They often worked online for hours at a time until 10 p.m.
“Teamwork takes effort and trust,” said Armstrong. “The boys grew in trust, trusting their teammates to do it right.”
For the final national round, the competition was narrowed to Wilcox High School, second-place Hamilton Southeastern High School in Indiana, and Saint Thomas Academy in Minnesota.
The teams had one hour and 55 minutes to prepare a financial plan to meet the goals of the fictional Hernandez family of four in Miami. Each team pitched its plan to a team of six investment professionals.
Armstrong credits the business club’s affiliation with DECA, a national organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs to be college and career ready, with giving the students a professional edge. For example, in the state competitions, a judge noted that Wilcox was the only team to compete wearing suits and ties.
“We’re super thankful for our advisors and that we got the opportunity to do this in this COVID-19 situation,” said Kapoor.