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Seen and Heard: Byron's Bears are bullish in investing competition

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"I don’t do it for the accolades," says Dan Matejka, of Goodview, who won an award for community service from Minnesota State College Southeast.

BestPrep’s Stock Market Game provides an opportunity for students to learn all about stocks, plus the risks and rewards of investing.

Byron students took second and third place in the High School Division of the Minnesota SMG competition. The second-place team of students included Jace Babcockand Nick Bjellum. The third-place team was comprised of Brady Helget, Kirsten Nelsonand Kayle Pierce.

Byron business and technology teacher Josh Bernardsintroduced the game to the students in his personal finance class. Between the support from BestPrep, a nonprofit dedicated to providing students with financial literacy skills, and funding from the Charles Schwab Foundation, the Byron students were able to participate in "real life" experiences related to investing.

Bernards said that the majority of his students had very little exposure to stocks and investing prior to their participation. Over the course of 14 weeks, working in pairs or teams of three, students were "given" a virtual $100,000 to invest and compete with others for the portfolio with the highest dollar value.

Bernards provided his students with a basic background on investment.

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"After we had a base knowledge, we spent some time on some simple games and simulations for the students to see first-hand the consequences of the decisions they made without the pressure or stakes of real investing," he said.

Describing his students’ progress and success, Bernards said, "I think this iteration of the game was an excellent real-life example of how important a long-term viewpoint is when it comes to investing. Neither of these groups was anywhere near the top of the leader board to begin with, but they made small adjustments and waited for the market to correct itself. They benefited from their patience in the market and confidence in the companies in which they bought shares."

Whether they become stockbrokers or not, these Byron students now have a strong financial foundation going forward.

Service to others

Dan Matejkaof Goodview was honored last month with the "Outstanding Alumni of the Year–Winona" award from Minnesota State College Southeast.

Matejka, who earned a degree in accounting from the school in 1984, was recognized for both his achievements professionally and his service to the community.

Dan described his excellent education and "the doors it opened" for him. His career path has taken him from working as an accountant for the Winona Area Public School District to serving as the business manager for the La Crescent-Hokah School District to his present position as Goodview’s city administrator. Although Dan grew up in Winona, as a 30-year resident of Goodview he certainly has what he describes as "a vested interest" in his home community.

Matejka grew up with his parents modeling service to others. His mother told him, "You treat others the way you want to be treated."

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Dan helped his father every Tuesday night calling bingo at their church. "God gave me gifts and I want to extend that, " Dan said.

Whether he is raising money for the community or serving on a board for a local nonprofit, Dan wants to "pay it back." Currently, he is working with Project Fine, an organization helping refugees make a new life in the United States.

Dan said he was "truly honored" to receive the award but "I don’t do it for the accolades." He said, "Lots of organizations need help and everyone has a talent."

Related Topics: FINANCE
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