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Student masters stock market

MIDDLEBURY — It’s been hard to make a buck on Wall Street during the past few years with a market that has been more bear than bull. It’s an environment that has chewed up and spit out many a seasoned broker.
Then there’s Forrest Wright-Lapin. At an age when most kids are collecting baseball cards and mastering X-box games, Wright-Lapin, 13, is proving himself to be quite the financial whiz kid. The Middlebury Union Middle School 8th-grader recently won first place in a statewide, scholastic stock market competition — and he did it without breaking much of a sweat.
“Apparently, the things I decided to invest in were doing well enough to win,” Wright-Lapin said matter-of-factly on Tuesday.
Modesty aside, Wright-Lapin’s net of $31,509.77 in fictional dollars out-paced the next-closest Vermont middle school team by more than $6,000 in the annual University of Vermont Stock Market Game. He also out-earned the nearest high school team by around $14,000 and the closest elementary team by approximately $18,000. Around 400 teams — many of them solo students — from throughout Vermont participated in the competition, according to MUMS math teacher Derek Bartlett, who counseled his school’s participants.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Bartlett said of Wright-Lapin’s fiduciary feat, which will earn him a $50 savings bond.
Bartlett noted that Wright-Lapin is the second MUMS entrant ever (in more than a decade) to win the middle school division of the UVM competition, but the first from the school to prevail in all three divisions. He and the other competitors had 10 weeks in which to invest 100,000 fictional dollars in the stock market. Participants had to distribute their money among at least five companies. The students had the option of altering their portfolio through trades during the course of the 10 weeks. Participants were able to monitor their stocks and make transactions through computer accounts set up through the UVM Economics Department.
Wright-Lapin picked five companies in which to invest and stuck with them for the 10-week duration. The companies were Google, eBay, Amazon, Overstock and Apple. He invested most heavily (45 percent of his assets) in Google.
There was really nothing scientific about his picks.
“I just picked the stuff that I liked,” Wright-Lapin said. “It wasn’t that hard. Once you bought something, you understood how to buy more.”
Being a good math student also helped, he acknowledged.
Wright-Lapin was excited when he learned he was the top earner in the entire competition. He’s looking forward to getting his savings bond and letting that money mature.
His impressive placement also earned him a neat nickname in school.
“He’s appropriately earned the nickname ‘Money,’” Bartlett said with a smile. “I think his favorite color is green.”
Still, Wright-Lapin doesn’t see himself jockeying for position in New York City’s frenzied financial district when he gets done with his studies. But he will definitely want people to show him the money.
“I want to go into advertising,” Wright-Lapin said without hesitation when asked about career plans.
Asked what variety of advertising, he replied, “anything that pays well.”
In the meantime, he’s very receptive to giving his parents some stock market tips.
“I’ve been trying to get my mom to invest, but she never seems to get around to it,” he said.

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