SHAMOKIN - Discussion among a gathering of students on Thursday at Original Italian Pizza sounded more like a meeting of financial advisors.

"Look at stocks long-term." "Don't sell right away when things are bad; wait it out." "Don't buy on margin." "Spring is a good time to invest in sports-related companies."

Those were among the observations made by members of the winning teams in this year's EconomicsPennsylvania Stock Market Game Challenge sponsored by Sunbury Motors and The News-Item.

Students were asked to share advice, their best and worst performing stocks and other information at the annual winners' luncheon, sponsored by Sunbury Motors.

Carolyn Shirk, who organizes the game for EconomicsPennsylvania in dozens of schools throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania, told students that being a good investor is becoming more important in an era where pensions are rare and Social Security's longevity is in doubt. More important than how much you invest is how early you start, she advised.

Each team begins the 10-week competition with a hypothetical $100,000 the members use to invest, using real-world stock trading as measurements of their success.

Top three teams in the high school division this year were Shamokin Area, first, finishing with $130,078.48; Mount Carmel Area, second, $116,325.15, and Line Mountain, third, $107,369.82.

In the middle school division, Mount Carmel Area was first with $107,352.15; Shamokin Area, second, $105,420.85, and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional, third, $103,279.51. The Lourdes team involved fifth- and sixth-graders; it's a rarity to have students that young play, Shirk said.

The participating schools each had multiple teams involving dozens of students.