CANYONVILLE— After winning the Capitol Hill Challenge for two consecutive years, the stock market team at Canyonville Christian Academy was not chosen to participate in the national contest this spring.
Unsatisfied with the reason it was given for its exclusion, the team is heading to Washington, D.C., and New York City Monday with hopes to meet members of Congress and members of the media.
CHC is a national competition in which thousands of junior high and high school teams of three to five students manage a hypothetical portfolio of $100,000.
They invest in real stocks, mutual funds and bonds. Organized by the SIFMA Foundation, CHC matches each member of the U.S. Congress with up to two schools in their respective districts competing in the Stock Market Game, an online simulation of financial markets.
The Canyonville team has participated in the contest for six years, but did not get matched with a member of Congress this year. The CCA team members are juniors Aldona Knysiak of Poland, Merveille Maroya of Benin, Kwon Choi of South Korea and senior Brian Powell of Canyonville. All four are new to the competition this year.
“We are grateful that the SIFMA Foundation’s Capitol Hill Challenge has inspired the students of Canyonville Christian Academy, including three past wins and student trips to Washington, D.C.,” the SIFMA Foundation wrote in a statement to the News-Review. “Unfortunately, there are limited resources and participant spots in the program. This year, a decision was made to engage a school that has not yet had the opportunity to participate. We hope that one day the program can be offered in all schools.”
The CCA team was told SIFMA couldn’t include the team in the CHC program this year because the spots were already full.
“Unfortunately, both the spots for Senators in Oregon have already been filled so we will be unable to accommodate you this spring,” SIFMA Assistant Vice President Nancy Kahn wrote in an email to the team’s stock market coach, Roger Shaffer.
The team, however, questioned this explanation.
After sending multiple emails asking for the names of the schools that had been chosen, Shaffer looked on the SIFMA website and said it showed there were still spots available.
According to the SIFMA website, Sen. Jeff Merkley is matched with Pine Eagle Charter School, Rep. Peter Defazio is representing Crow Middle-High School and Oakland High School and Sen. Ron Wyden is also representing Oakland High School and Oregon Trail Academy.
“They’re trying to cover up whatever the reason was by telling us something that wasn’t true,” Shaffer said of SIFMA. “We’re the only school that has won this thing twice. They essentially said, ‘you can’t play,’ which is really unfair.”
“We didn’t get any answer that would satisfy us or tell us the real reasons for what had happened,” Knysiak added.
Maroya said the team doesn’t know why it wasn’t included.
“Maybe it was an opportunity for another school to compete,” Maroya said. “We won twice in a row and we’re a small school in Canyonville, which is not well known.”
Doug Wead, president of CCA, had the idea to bring the students on the East Coast trip.
“The idea of the trip is to reward them and show our love and our encouragement for them, and as far as we’re concerned, they’re champions,” Wead said. “It’s kind of a mixture of motives— joy for the kids’ achievements, heartbreak over the fact that they couldn’t participate and mystery over why.”
Wead said he scheduled meetings with some of the members of Congress representing Oregon.
“We’re going to leave them letters that speak for themselves and that ask them to not exclude anyone based on their religion or race or sexual orientation,” Wead said.
SIFMA matches the members of Congress with the schools, and the representatives and senators are not in charge of choosing their own teams.
It will be the first time some of the CCA team members will travel to D.C. and New York. They said they look forward to touring the cities and taking pictures by the golden bull in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
“I think we would like to show that we won for the last two years and this year we didn’t get the opportunity to show we could win again,” Knysiak said.
“I hope to get recognition for the fact that we were left out of something we wanted to be a part of,” Powell said.
“We want to know the actual reason why we were excluded,” Kwon added.
Shaffer said the Stock Market Game uses different strategies than he would advise for investing in real stocks, as the students can take riskier chances in the hypothetical game.
The school has an account with a stock broker to invest real stocks in addition to the game, and part of that fund will go toward paying for the trip.
“We’re just extremely proud of these kids and what they’ve accomplished,” Wead said.