More than a trophy: Ella Zachery changes precedent in WHS InvestWrite contest


Credit: Courtesy of Ella Zachery

Senior Ella Zachery wins first place in Massachusetts and fifth place nationally in the InvestWrite writing competition. Zachery is the first girl to win the InvestWrite competition in business teacher Fred Lehmann’s Investing and the Creative Economy (ICE) class.

Emily Roberge

Every year, Wayland High School students in the Investing and the Creative Economy (ICE) business class participate in the national InvestWrite competition. For years, on the walls of the WHS business classroom lay the photos of the InvestWrite winners, male after male. Now, that has changed, as senior Ella Zachery’s name is on the wall, here to stay.

In order to participate in the national InvestWrite competition, ICE students must first participate in the Stock Market Game, a class simulation that requires students to invest stocks in companies of their choice, before writing a paper on their experience in the class activity. In the InvestWrite competition, students are challenged to discuss what they learned from the Stock Market Game and apply these skills to real-world financial issues and situations. WHS business teacher Fred Lehmann, who teaches the ICE, Entrepreneurship and Business Management (EBM) and Business Law classes at WHS, then submits the top-scoring essays in the class to the SIFMA Foundation, the organization that runs the competition and judges the essays. The only things judges have access to is the essay’s number, and they are impartial to gender or identity.

Unlike other students, Zachery took a unique approach to her InvestWrite essay, connecting her experience in the Stock Market Game to the work of companies like Pfizer and Power Plug.

“In Ella’s essay, she drew on [information] she had learned in EBM like the importance of not only a company’s profit, but their vision and their impact in the community and the environment,” Lehmann said. “She was considering the topic and prompt she had to write more holistically than some other students had. It was really gratifying to see her pull the content she had learned from previous business classes.”

Following the SIFMA Foundation’s judging of over 3,000 essays, Zachery won first place in Massachusetts for the writing competition and fifth place nationally.

“I am really happy to have an accomplishment like this and represent Wayland High School on a national scale,” Zachery said. “I am also happy the accomplishment is in this subject given the financial state today and the economy going forward with new technology that is emerging and the rising inflation. I think it is really important to know that information.”

In 2008, former WHS student Stefanie Scari received first place in the InvestWrite contest, marking the first time a female WHS student won the contest. However, during Lehmann’s nine years teaching ICE, Zachery is the first female student to win InvestWrite, which he believes is long overdue.

“Not having a female win the InvestWrite contest ever was something that had really bothered me,” Lehmann said. “I had always been trying to build up more female participation in the business classes. Ella is the first one to break through [by winning the InvestWrite contest], and I am really psyched about that.”

Like Lehmann, Zachery’s peers shared a similar sentiment about her winning the contest, especially the four other girls within the class.

“It definitely made me excited for a girl to win it,” senior Allie Chase said. “When the administration walked into the room and said that someone was going to win the award, I could hear everyone in the class talking and I think everyone was expecting it to be one of the boys. I was so happy for her because she was able to prove everyone wrong in that sense.”

Zachery recalls the moment she realized she had won the InvestWrite competition.

“The SIFMA foundation came in and started reading the first sentence and the two stocks I had picked, and it was exactly what I had written, so at that moment, I knew I had won,” Zachery said. “I was kind of in shock and looked at Allie. Allie then looked at me and asked if that was the beginning of my essay, and I nodded to her yes.”

Lehman, a Power Plug executive and a SIFMA foundation executive present Zachery with the InvestWrite award.  (Credit: Courtesy of Ella Zachery)

Following this, her parents and brother walked into the room to surprise her with the award along with a SIFMA foundation executive, a Power Plug executive, WHS Principal Allyson Mizoguchi, WHS Vice Principal Sean Gass and history department head David Schmirer.

“My parents were really proud of me for what I had accomplished,” Zachery said. “I had my mom proofread the essay before I turned it in, so she knew exactly what I said.”

Having one of his students win the InvestWrite competition, Lehmann feels that he has been impacted for the better.

“It feels awesome because I know how hard they work,” Lehmann said. “For them to be able to articulate in their writing, in ways that are compelling to industry professionals in their essays, it’s really gratifying to see them win that honor.”

Next year, Zachery will continue her interest in business by studying marketing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, she attributes her success to much more than just her own hard work.

“I owe so much of this accomplishment to Mr. Lehmann,” Zachery said. “I have taken his classes for the past three years, and everything that led up to me writing this essay has been the material that I have learned in his classes. It is such an amazing way to end my career in his classes. I am so glad it got to happen like this.”