Students from a small Christian high school in Oregon traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with members of Congress and ask them to work to protect their religious rights after they were excluded from a national stock-market competition – a competition their school team had won the last two years.
Representatives of Canyonville Christian Academy explain that the circumstances of their exclusion from the Capitol Hill Challenge, run by the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, were suspicious.
The challenge is a competition in which students start with a hypothetical equity in the stock market, pick stocks to buy and sell, and tally their results according to the real results on Wall Street. Canyonville’s team won the national competition both in 2014 and 2015.
To WND, SIFMA responded with essentially the same statement it made earlier: “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. 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.”
That was the same as what the group said earlier in Oregon’s News-Review, “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 statement explained, “Unfortunately, there are limited resources and participant spots in the program.”
Then SIFMA spokeswoman Nancy Kahn also told the marketing team’s coach, Roger Shaffer, “Unfortunately, both the spots for senators in Oregon have already been filled so we will be unable to accommodate you this spring.”
She was citing a procedure whereby teams that participate are matched with members of Congress.
But school officials said they found that not all members of Congress at the time had been lined up with teams.
Doug Wead, the president of the academy, said the school ultimately decided to send the marketing team to Washington to meet with members of Congress to plead their cause.
“We’re going to leave them letters that speak for themselves and ask them to not exclude anyone based on their religion or race or sexual preference,” Wead told the News-Review.
This week, he explained to WND from Washington, where he had traveled with the team, the students were meeting with senators “asking them since their names are being used in the contest to please make sure there is no discrimination against young people based on race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
The student who, according to Canyonville’s tabulated results actually should have been the national individual winner, Brian Powell, posted a video explaining the situation:
Shaffer, the team’s coach, told WND he would like SIFMA to explain why “they would want to exclude the dominant team over the past years.”
“You’re trying to educate kids, promote stock market ideas, among high schools. Why would you throw out the school that has actually excelled at it?”
While the national competition has been going for only a little over a decade, state competitions have been going on much longer, and at that level, Canyonville has virtually controlled the title, winning 26 of the last 28 state competitions.
Wead told WND the rejection was a “kick in the stomach” to his team, especially the seniors who had been planning to participate, and now will not have the opportunity.
School officials confirmed that in addition to playing the national game, CCA students have been investing real money in real stocks since 2002, and in the last three months their assets have more than doubled.
It is some of that money that was used to pay for their trip to meet with senators, officials said.
Team members come from four continents and include include Merveille Maroya of Allada, Benin; Aldona Knysiak of Belchatow, Poland; Byung Kwon Choi of Muan, South Korea and Brian Powell of Riddle, Oregon.
SIFMA had praised the school when it won in 2014, noting the students’ hypothetical investments started with $100,000 and ended up at $185,888.92.
“Congratulations to Canyonville Christian Academy for placing first in the 2014 Stock Market Game™-Capitol Hill Challenge,” Kenneth E. Bentsen, Jr., SIFMA’s president, said at the time.
Then in 2015, the school revealed it was first out of more than 4,300 teams.