PORTLAND — What do Federal Reserve Bank securities holdings mainly consist of?
A – Corporate stocks and bonds.
B – U.S. Government bonds, notes and bills.
C – Foreign currency.
D – Securities representing U.S. loans to foreign nations.
That was the question all six members of the Waynflete School Finance Club answered correctly when they became the first Maine team to win the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Reserve Cup Challenge in Boston on Nov. 22.
For those less-versed in matters of finance, the answer is “B.”
“We practiced on the train on the way down. We used the wi-fi to watch last year’s competition,” said sophomore Mason Saltz, of Scarborough.
Team captain senior Addison St. Onge-May, from Bridgton, said he drilled the team on the Federal Reserve Bank holdings the day before the competition.
“It was like it was meant to be,” he said, of the final, tie-breaking question that put Waynflete ahead of Newton (Mass.) North High School by five points, to take the title.
Waynflete math teacher Steve Kautz put the team together earlier this year when he realized he had a group of students who would enjoy the competition.
“There is a movement across the country to increase financial education in schools,” Kautz said. “This is most prevalent in public schools.”
However, he said, some independent schools such as Waynflete offer students elective courses in finance, economics and business, and supplement those classes with clubs and other activities.
“I think it is extremely important to teach economics and financial literacy at the high school level,” Kautz said. “There is no doubt that a lack of knowledge on the part of many Americans in the areas of finance, economics and math skills connected to those concepts contributed to the financial crisis of 2008, and the problems we continue to face today.”
For the students, the competition in Boston was an opportunity to show off all they’ve learned in their finance classes, and have a little fun at the same time.
Team member and Waynflete senior Sam Hansen, of Falmouth, said questions ranged from personal finance and the rules governing credit card companies, to global finance and the Eurozone.
Senior Alysa Grindlinger, also from Falmouth, and the team’s only girl, said she was one of two girls who competed in Boston.
“I don’t know why there aren’t more girls,” she said. “I’m trying to convince some (Waynflete) juniors to get involved, so they can go next year.”
She said she doesn’t plan to study economics in college, but she said it’s important to learn about this, particularly personal finance, just to be a productive citizen.
“To understand how the Fed works is really important in order to be an informed voter and citizen,” St. Onge-May added.
He and team members Peter Stein, of Portland, and Mitch Newlin, of Brunswick, said they plan to study finance in college.
Hansen said he hopes to study behavioral economics because he’s fascinated by the economic choices people make.
“People don’t always act in their own best economic interest,” he said.
Waynflete School finance team members Alysa Grindlinger, left, Sam Hansen, Addison St. Onge-May, Peter Stein, Mason Saltz and Mitch Newlin won the Federal Reserve Cup Challenge in Boston on Nov. 22. The team is the first from Maine to win the competition, which tests students’ knowledge of personal and global finance.