Investment clubs have been popular with college students and older adults for a long time, although club portfolios have taken a sizable hit during the recent recession. For high school students, though, investing is usually a theoretical exercise: Anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from owning and trading stock.

Investment clubs have been popular with college students and older adults for a long time, although club portfolios have taken a sizable hit during the recent recession. For high school students, though, investing is usually a theoretical exercise: Anyone under the age of 18 is prohibited from owning and trading stock. But the Gahanna Lincoln Investment Society has found a way to let students learn the ins and outs of investing using real money. The society is the brainchild of economics teacher Phil Peters and personal finance teacher Bryce Culver, who came up with the idea in 2009. In their classes, students in the economics programs got to experience simulated investing, but the two teachers felt they could do better. "Simulations are all about high-risk, spot trading to make the most money you can," Peters said. "We wanted to go beyond that, and teach the students about investing for long-term gains." In order for the club to be able to invest real money, they needed some starting funds. Peters and Culver turned to the Gahanna Jefferson Education Foundation to help. A private, anonymous donor provided seed money - which is invested through a fund owned by the Foundation - and the club was on its way. Current Society President Nathan Hengstebeck, a 17-year-old senior, joined the club after his interest was piqued in economics class. "We learn about personal finance, financial savviness, and just understanding how markets work," Hengstebeck said. Initially, the club was only open to juniors and seniors who had taken economics classes; now underclassmen have been invited to join. There are approximately 25 members this year. "We also have teaching exercises, and we have a weekly lesson on some aspect of investing," said Peters who, along with Culver and fellow teacher Selene Kelley, helps the students. "We advise them on their investigations, but we don't tell them what to buy or sell." All dividends are fed back into the fund. Although it shows a net loss right now, the club hopes to make the fund self-sustaining and possibly use future profits to finance a charitable project or scholarship through the Foundation. Hengstebeck, meanwhile, said he plans to start his own portfolio once he turns 18, and may even minor in economics when he heads to Miami University next year.