St. John’s wins the National Economics Challenge


Courtesy of Jack Soliman

Seniors Oliver Lin, Ananya Das and Harris Lee and Duncan McLaren (’22) won the National Economics Challenge on June 6.

It was the final question of the National Economic Challenge. Of the four competing teams, St. John’s and two other teams were tied for first. “What economic principle is violated by the phrase: ‘if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself?’”

“I was freaking out because that last question was conceptual, which I had been assigned to study for the competition, so I was supposed to know it, but I didn’t,” said Oliver Lin, senior co-president of the economics club. “I was thinking about the Minions movie and asked the team, ‘why do the minions do different things?’ When Harris responded with ‘they specialize,’ I knew that was right and wrote that down.”

St. John’s won the competition by one point.

Founded in the middle of the 2021-2022 school year, the economics club was initially composed of just four members: Lin, senior co-president of the club Ananya Das, senior Harris Lee, and Duncan McLaren (‘22), and they had only four months to get ready for the competition. Preparation included study sessions on weekends and, on weekdays, reading from the AP Micro and Macro Economics textbooks.

“Learning so much economics in that short amount of time was a lot, but since we were in a group, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Das said. 

The National Economics Challenge includes four stages: the state round, the local round, the regional round and the national round. 

“The regional round was the hardest by far,” club sponsor Jack Soliman said. “While every other round was about memorizing economics facts, the regional round was about taking what we know and applying it.”

In the semifinals, all teams received a case study prompt and had 30 minutes to create a presentation that provided an economic solution to one of the world’s problems. Advancing to the national round required a team to place within the top four at the regional round, and St. John’s ended up getting fourth place.

The finals took place in New York on June 6. The four schools competing for the national title were St. John’s, Phillips Exeter, Dana Hall and Mount Hebron.

“Mount Hebron High School had won the competition for the past four years, so they were the favorites going in,” Lin said. “But I was still confident and always thought we had a shot to win.”

The economics club aspires to win a second year in a row and create a team of juniors to win the second division.

“We hope to have two wins by the end,” Lin said. “But I hope that our success last year will convince other kids that they can try out new things. It doesn’t have to be economics.”