The Foundation for Investor Education (FIE), a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising the level of investor knowledge across the nation, today announced the top three winners of its fall 2006 InvestWrite Stock Market Game student essay competition. The winning students, from Houston, Texas; Ballwin, Mo.; and Bailey, Colo., will now compete in their respective divisions against the winners of the spring 2007 competition for the InvestWrite Grand National Championship, which will take place in May. The winning entries were chosen from among 11,138 students from 805 classrooms in grades four through 12 across the country. In all, 30 students were cited for their investment insight, business understanding and quality of expression presented in their essays. The Foundation's InvestWrite contest is an innovative extension of its award-winning Stock Market Game¿ (SMG) program. In the InvestWrite essays, students apply knowledge of math, language arts and business to actual savings and investment principles. "InvestWrite is a teacher-designed competition that provides a critical tool in raising student awareness of the importance of savings and investing," said Donna C. Peterman, the Foundation's chairman and senior vice president, PNC Financial Services Group. "This competition enables students to use analytical, research and writing skills in real-world situations." The three top winners were: Elementary Division (Grades 4-5): Samantha Gorny from Shadowbriar Elementary School in Houston, Texas was chosen from among 221 entries in her division. The elementary division's essay theme was dividends. Gorny, a fifth grader in Jane Arnold's class, presented a compelling argument for dividend stocks in her engaging essay titled College Money 101. To help ensure that her parents had enough money to pay for her education, Gorny put her parents on an allowance fueled by dividends. She reasoned that stocks paying dividends were a good investment to ensure immediate cash needs, like money for her father's greens fees. She also believed the potential for growth with these stocks would help to ensure funds for long-term expenses such as her education. Gorny noted, "I need to make sure that one dividend stock provides cash for luxuries (like my father's golf), one of the stocks grows long term for my college fund, and one is safe, just in case something goes wrong with the others." Through Internet research, Gorny was able to narrow her dividend-paying investment picks to BP Prudhoe Bay Royalty Trust, Suntrust Banks, and Kimberly Clark. Hoping to attend the University of Delaware to pursue her ice skating career in the future, Gorny is creating a solid foundation to help fund her dream. Middle School Division (Grades 6-8): Philip Liu, an eighth grader in Celeste Prinz's class at Selvidge Middle School in Ballwin, Mo., competed against 588 other students nationwide to win the top prize The middle school division's theme was to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of public and private companies. In his essay titled Public or Private?, Liu debated whether his fictitious company, which makes erasers that look like celebrities, should go public in the stock market or seek funds in the private sector. Liu made the case for going public as "the benefits of the stock market far outweigh the benefits in staying private." He convincingly argued that "there are many reasons for going public... liquidity, mergers/acquisitions, increased valuation, compensation, prestige, personal wealth, publicity, etc. Going public will make your company flourish." Liu then explained how each reason benefits a company, its shareholders, management and employees. High School Division (Grades 9-12): Danny Ramey, an eleventh grader at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo., competed against 631 other high school students nationwide to win the top prize for his essay, which was submitted by his economics teacher Todd Larson. The high school division's theme was to compare two companies in the same industry. Ramey's essay, entitled Ford Versus General Motors, analyzed the business and investment attributes of these two global auto manufacturers. Ramey reasoned that "due to stronger sales, good stability, and a wider variety of vehicles, General Motors does indeed win the clash of these two manufacturing titans." According to Ramey, Ford's ongoing financial troubles make it a risky investment while General Motors is the safer choice currently "because it is more stable and has less of a chance of dipping greatly." He acknowledged that there may potentially be a greater upside to Ford's stock, however, "over the next few months GM should improve faster than Ford while Ford slowly digs itself out a hole. One may find Ford a better company but let the current facts show GM as the better investment."