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The Slap-tastic Economics Team

By: Nicholas Tucci '20

When I walked into my first day of economics class my senior year, I was woken up from my groggy sleepwalk by the blaring sound of DotA, a loud and energetic techno song by Basshunter. To say the least, I was shocked. Accompanying the sweet symphony my ears had just witnessed was the sight of a short man frantically drawing crazy lines and graphs as well as scribbling notes I did not understand on his whiteboard. 

Coming from humble beginnings in the social studies where I was accustomed either to Mr. Hoverson’s baritone explanations of his famed books or Dr. Carpenter’s eloquent use of lexicon terminology, I was in no way ready for the psychological explosion that is Mr. Simmons. Mr. Simmons’ energetic, personal style of teaching was enough to get me interested in economics right away, even though I had little to no prior knowledge of the subject. Senior year began to fly by and the senior class’ skill got better and better as we grew comfortable with the blasts of information we experienced within Mr. Simmons’ room.

As second semester moves along, Mr. Simmons introduces us to the idea of something new. A way to take our newfound mastery of economics to a competitive level. These opportunities are the Econ Challenge and Finance Challenge teams. Each year, Mr. Simmons selects a group of his Advanced Placement Economics students to go with him and try their luck at the Econ and Finance Challenges at the University of Saint Thomas. In years past, the team has had great success. “We have actually won the State final and advanced to the National competition multiple times” says Mr. Simmons. 

With a skilled team comes unique opportunities for the students on the team. As the competition advances through levels, the location changes. Although the coronavirus pandemic sent each level of the competition online this year, the plan was to make our way to Newark, New Jersey to compete for the National Title. Mr. Simmons said “I am fairly confident in the group of guys we have this year.” Turns out his confidence was well placed. When the pandemic sent everyone home for the remainder of the year, the econ and finance teams continued to practice and meet online. This year’s regular econ team placed third in the state while the advanced placement team placed second. The Finance team, however, showed extreme success, winning the state competition and moving on to place third in the nation.

Although my time on the Economics Team has been brief and extremely fun, the true goal is to learn more about a subject I have grown to love. Mr. Simmons found his passion in Economics and his desire to share that passion with his students allows them to grasp the subject more easily. The Economics Team not only expands knowledge and opportunity during high school, but prepares its members with the tools and skills needed to thrive in the real world.