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Rockwood South Student Places 1st in Missouri, 5th Nationally in Essay Competition

March 16, 2023

 A Rockwood student smiles while holding the trophy he earned in a national essay contestRockwood South Middle seventh-grader Xavier Heilman placed first in the state of Missouri and fifth nationally in the Grades 6-8 Fall 2022 InvestWrite essay competition.

More than 1,300 students nationally entered the contest in Heilman’s division. Friends, family members and teachers surprised Heilman with the good news in Academic Stretch teacher Alexandra Forgerson’s classroom shortly after school started on Thursday, March 16.

“I didn’t really expect it,” he said. “I just feel joy. I put a lot of work into this, researching and writing this essay.”

InvestWrite is a program of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation and is open to students who participate in The Stock Market Game through SIFMA.

The essay competition asks students to reflect on their experience building a portfolio of stocks and bonds for The Stock Market Game, reinforcing their newfound knowledge and honing their critical thinking skills.

A Rockwood student accepts congratulations over Zoom for his performance in a national essay contestSIFMA representatives and an industry professional from Wells Fargo, one of the judges for the essay contest, attended the surprise ceremony via Zoom to congratulate Heilman on his achievement.

They were especially impressed by his grasp of advanced financial concepts such as beta – which measures the expected move in a stock relative to movements in the overall market – and 52-week highs and lows when it comes to evaluating portfolio options.

Forgerson said the InvestWrite competition was an optional assignment for her students. Heilman worked with Forgerson and language arts teacher Kristen Engle on his essay. Any time they popped into the Google Doc to check on his progress, his icon was always active and he was working.

“It feels incredible for him to earn this, especially because I know how much hard work went into it,” Forgerson said. “Every single time we gave feedback, he was incorporating it. When you talk about grit and perseverance, this is the perfect example of a student who was refining and investing in the process.”

Heilman’s essay centered on the importance of supporting companies that are combating climate change. Forgerson said she and Engle were impressed by the intensive research that went into his findings.

A Rockwood student smiles as he accepts congratulations for his performance in a national essay writing contest“He went to each company’s website and looked at their mission statement, how they spend their money, their goals for the future,” Forgerson said. “He was specifically looking for engineering and infrastructure changes they were making to combat climate change, and his whole essay was about how he wanted to be an engineer in the future. It was incredible.”

Heilman graciously accepted the congratulations from his friends and hugs from his family – as well as partaking in the breakfast buffet arranged in his honor – at his surprise party Thursday, but he couldn’t stay for long.

He had to catch the bus with the rest of his orchestra classmates to travel to a performance.

“I like how you can support a company even though you’re not really there,” Heilman said. “It’s so interesting how you can have a part in a company’s success. It’s just fascinating.”