Q&A with Evanston Township High School

School Name: Evanston Township High School

Evanston Township High School (ETHS) is 3000+ student public high school in the Chicago-bordering suburb of Evanston — the same suburb in which Magnetar Capital is located. After learning about the Magnetar Academy a few years ago, ETHS teacher Dave Feeley jumped at the chance to participate, and soon began using the Magnetar Academy curriculum in his business classes.

This fall, Feeley taught “Business Law” to 20+ students (mostly upperclassmen), and this semester is teaching “Personal Finance and Careers in Business” to 26 students from all four grade levels. ETHS also has an Investment Club that uses the Magnetar curriculum and is comprised of 15 students who are involved in helping to run the organization.

Students from Evanston’s Investment Club will make up the school’s team at this year’s Magnetar Academy Team Challenge — the second one in which the school will participate. In advance of the program, we spoke with Mr. Feeley and some of his students about their thoughts on the event, financial education and more.

Dave Feeley, teacher

Why did ETHS get involved with the Magnetar Academy and the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge?

Well, there’s not a lack of material on financial literacy — there’s a ton of it. But not all of that material is practical. Not all of it is engaging, which is the important part. If the kids aren’t paying attention, they’re not getting anything out of it. The Magnetar Academy curriculum engages them, and the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge is one of the biggest parts of that.

The Team Challenge is just unbelievably engaging. The adrenaline drive you get is intense. I was a runner at the Chicago Board of Trade in the ‘70s, and it really simulates that experience.

What lessons does the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge teach to students?

The most important things are being patient, working as a team and delegating responsibilities — those big things will be used throughout life, no matter what you do.

From a personal standpoint, it shows the importance of being able to crunch numbers — to be a quantitative person in today’s world. Yes, we have cell phones and everything, but being able to mentally go through numbers quickly can take you a long way. In the Challenge, it helps if you can take in a lot of data quickly and be able to do something with it. That’s important in real-world careers as well.

How did your team perform last year?

We were actually winning at half time last year — the kids were so hyped. And then the portfolios started going down, and the kids were losing it. We ended in the top half, a little bit above the 50th percentile. That was a good lesson in managing your emotions during stressful periods.

Why is it important for your students to learn about finance?

It’s important for them to be good savers. Retirement, buying a car, a house, etc. — these are all things they will need to save for. Students in this generation really need to save about $2 million for retirement.

[Pictured is Evanston’s team at the 2016 Magnetar Academy Team Challenge.]

Mia Frost, ETHS student

Why do you think it’s important to learn about finance?

Finance becomes much more present in the future, when adolescents are transitioning to more independent young adults. Student loans, renting an apartment, buying a car, and paying taxes are all examples of expenses that come with being an independent adult. Learning about finance, especially while still in high school, can better prepare a young person for handling and understanding their future.

What lessons did you take away from the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge?

I learned that stock markets work more on a basis of probability. You can detect patterns to make smart investments, but nothing is guaranteed.

How do you plan to use what you’ve learned at the Magnetar Academy Team Challenge, and through the curriculum, in your future?

I might make some investments in the future. Not in the immediate future, but maybe a year or two into this new presidency, when the climate is not as “scary.” Even if I never end up investing in stocks, I will at least have some knowledge of how the stock market works, and how to predict the highs and lows.

Jean Dorelus, ETHS student

What did you enjoy most about last year’s Magnetar Academy Team Challenge?

I enjoyed the actual competition most; It was really fast-paced, interesting, and all the while staying informative. The emotional roller coaster of it all is really intense.

Why do you think it’s important to learn about finance?

I think the most important thing I learned about finance is savings and dividends. Specifically, using the stock market as a vehicle to save, and watching those savings over a course of time.

What did you learn from last year’s Magnetar Academy Team Challenge?

Thanks to the Challenge, I discovered a fascination with the stock market. I’ve even considered trading as a possible career path of mine. I plan on using what I’ve learned to introduce me to the trading industry, and [even if I don’t pursue a trading career,] at least I know how to be a fiscally-responsible adult.

What excites you about participating again this year?

The fact that I now know more about trading and the nature of the stock market excites me because I feel like my team will be more prepared to do better in the Challenge than we did in last year’s.