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Central High Team Takes Top Honors in National Fed Challenge


WASHINGTON, D.C. — A team of students from Little Rock Central High School won first place in the Fed Challenge, a national economics competition sponsored by the Federal Reserve System.

The team advanced to the finals by winning the Eighth Federal Reserve District competition at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis last month. The students are Shariq Ali, Stuart Shirrell, Cameron Zohoori, Brent Sodman and Hilary Ledwell. Charles Meyers was an alternate. Their teacher, George West, said, "Every day in my job I get to see young people discovering their talents. But today I watched five of my students truly recognize their full potential."

The Little Rock team won over strong competition from six other schools: St. Joseph's High School in South Bend, Ind.; Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn.; West Windsor High School in Plainsborough, NJ; Severn School in Severna Park, Md.; International Baccalaureate High School in Upper Arlington, Ohio; and Millard North High School in Omaha, Neb.

Each team made a 15-minute presentation based on research of economic conditions and then recommended a course of action for monetary policy. The presentations were made before a panel of judges in a mock Federal Open Market Committee format.

Central High team members were pleased with their accomplishment.

"When the people who actually make monetary policy tell you your team is the best high school economics team in America, it's a pretty sweet feeling," said junior Hilary Ledwell.

"I had no idea back in September how much extra time we would actually spend on this," junior Cameron Zohoori said. "At first my goal was just to win state. I never planned to be at national competition, much less win it. But at each stage, our win would refresh me."

Team captain and senior Stuart Shirrell noted, "We have risen so far above where we started. It's been a meteoric year."

Robert Hopkins, senior executive of the St. Louis Fed's Little Rock Branch, said,
"I'm not surprised that the Central High students are national champions. Their willingness to seek constructive criticism, ask questions and dig deeply reflected their commitment. They are a group of smart, talented, hard-working young adults. Their futures are very bright and we at the Fed wish them well."

With branches in Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis serves the Eighth Federal Reserve District, which includes all of Arkansas, eastern Missouri, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, western Tennessee and northern Mississippi. The St. Louis Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve banks that, along with the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C., comprise the Federal Reserve System. As the nation's central bank, the Federal Reserve System formulates U.S. monetary policy, regulates state-chartered member banks and bank holding companies, and provides payment services to financial institutions and the U.S. government.

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