Some Gahanna Lincoln High School students will have an opportunity this year to go beyond typical investment classes using fake money, instead trading with actual funds.

Some Gahanna Lincoln High School students will have an opportunity this year to go beyond typical investment classes using fake money, instead trading with actual funds.

High school economics teacher Phil Peters and high school personal-finance teacher Bryce Culver have been talking about forming an investment society since last year. To achieve their goal and have some funds an investment club could use, they applied to the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation for help.

"It makes a difference to the students when they know it's real money," Peters said. "It makes them more serious about learning."

Dale Foor, the district's coordinator of community service, said money for the club was given by a private, anonymous donor and was not part of the foundation's nearly $28,000 in grants recently announced for school programs.

Now that Peters and Culver have the financial piece in place, they have been meeting with several seniors interested in being part of the investment society.

"Part of this is leadership development," Peters said. "The students are doing the work."

The students, Wesley Delp, Tim Hodson, Rob Roll and Kyle Richards, worked to set up the society's guidelines and are serving as officers. Their first meeting with others interested in being part of the society was held after school Jan. 21.

During the meeting, which attracted eight students, Delp and Hodson explained the guidelines and asked for input.

All eight students volunteered to research a particular market sector for the next meeting, slated for after school Tuesday, Feb. 2.

Peters said it would be good for each student to study one aspect of the market, becoming "pseudo-experts" and being able to share their expertise with the rest of the class.

Delp suggested each could begin a simulation to see how he or she manages funds in his or her sector.

Market simulations are an activity the students do regularly in class.

Peters said many of the financial models studied in class use high-risk calculations, requiring students to learn how to trade stocks in a quick manner. The investment society will be different, asking students to learn how to invest for the future, not necessarily using the methods that raise the most money in a short time.

"We're interested in learning how to do more conservative investments for the long haul," he said. "I call it lifetime investments. ... Our students will get to set guidelines for a safer portfolio."

Joel Reed, a student who attended the first investment society meeting, said that is one of the reasons he wanted to join the society. He said he fared well in the quick-trading simulations and is interested to learn more about long-term investing.

Peters said the district first decided to enlist juniors and seniors who already have taken economics and personal finance. Both classes teach stock-market calculations. Eventually, he said, they intend to open the society to all students in the high school.

Hodson said the society's goal is to use the initial funds from the foundation to become self-sustaining, choosing a portfolio that earns money and keeps the society operating well after this year. If they are successful enough, Delp said, he would like to see the society sponsor a scholarship for a society member going on to study business in college or donate to a charity. Hodson suggested having students apply to the society to fund school projects, too.

"I think in the long run, this could be something big," he said.

Many investment societies or clubs exist, Peters said, but most are at colleges, where college students could invest their own money as part of the society's strategy. He said the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation is allowing the high school to do the same thing by providing money for the investments.

Society members will pay dues, but the dues will pay only for food for meetings and other minor club expenses.

"I think it's cool to start something that no other high schools are doing, to really pioneer it," Hodson said.

The students who attended the first meeting said they joined to learn more. Most were enticed by what they first learned in either Peters' or Culver's classes.

"Both of those used fake dollars," student Courtney Riddle said. "To use real money and to talk to people, being interactive, taking a chance, it's like real life."

Riddle said she is interested in studying business and finance in college.

Demetrius Stevenson is more interested in sharing information with his peers, saying he wants to learn from the insight of others.

Though Tiffany Pineda plans to study medicine, she said, the society could help her expand her knowledge of finances.

Pineda even designed a logo for the society, which uses the letters G, L, I and S, with the I and S forming a dollar sign.

Just from being involved with the organization of the society, Delp has changed his outlook on college, he said.

"Already the club has provided me with leadership skills and idea of taking an idea and making it reality," he said. "I plan to attend Kent State (University in Canton) as an architecture major but now also plan to pursue a double major in business administration. Though I won't be around to see the Gahanna Lincoln Investment Society a few years from now, I take pride in my contribution thus far and am excited to see what the remainder of the year has to offer."

Peters said he doesn't anticipate the society attracting 60 members. Instead, he said, the society probably will include a smaller group, maybe 10 to 15 students.

During their meetings, students will meet with guest speakers to learn more about possible investment strategies and to share what they've learned from their own research.

According to the society's guidelines, the foundation money may be invested only with a 51-percent majority vote of the society's active members. The guidelines will not allow more than 15 percent of the funds to be placed in one stock sector, no more than 10 percent in one individual stock and no more than 15 percent in international interests. The goal will be to put at least 25 percent of the funds in Ohio-based companies.

The students will be prohibited from investing in casinos or gambling, alcohol or tobacco establishments, adult publications, or any other investment "that conflicts with the Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools mission statement."