Team Taft Earn National Honors in Economics Competition

Four Taft students earned national recognition for their work in the prestigious National Economics Challenge

Four Taft students recently traveled to New York City to compete in the National Economics Challenge, sponsored by the Council for Economic Education (CEE) with support from the Wells Fargo Foundation. Representing Taft were (in photo from left), Rina Kurihara ‘24, Lachlan Abbott ‘24, Michael Xu ‘25, Nikas Lukyanov ’24.  The team came home with first-runner up honors and a $500 per student prize in the finals of the competition, an event moderated by CNBC’s Steve Leisman and televised live from Wall Street. 

“This is the first time that I know of that a group of Taft students have competed in this event,” says Economics Teacher Kevin Danaher, who is also the Economics Club advisor at Taft, the group that brought the NEC to the Taft community. “Seniors Serafym Rybachkivskyi and Leyla Zhaksybek approached me early in the school year and wanted to start an Economics Club at Taft. They proposed that members get involved the National Economics Challenge; they also organized the teams.”

Three Taft teams participated in the Challenge, which began with state-level competitions that see the high-scorers move on national semi-finals; the top eight advance to the national finals. Teams compete in two different divisions, one for first-year economics students, the other for more advanced students. Taft’s novice team of Rina, Lachlan, Michael and Nikas, went all the way to the finals.

“Our congratulations to the top finishers, the finalists and indeed to all students and educators who participated in the National Economics Challenge this year,” said Nan J. Morrison, CEE president and chief executive officer. “For these students, economics is not a mystery or a puzzle. The NEC makes learning economics fun by asking each team to apply its skills and knowledge to real world problems, while promoting collaboration and teamwork along with a healthy dose of competition – all useful capabilities for their futures.”

The event is the nation’s most prestigious high school economics competition, with nearly 7,000 US students competing this year. The Challenge recognizes exceptional high school students for their knowledge of economic principles and their ability to apply problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to real-world events.⁠


The Council for Economic Education’s mission is to equip K-12 students with the tools and knowledge of personal finance and economics so that they can make better decisions for themselves, their families and their communities. CEE does everything possible to bring this knowledge to over 4 million K-12 students annually, leveraging a network of national affiliates. CEE works to make sure financial and economic education is required in K-12 schools; they provide free training and resources annually to over 40,000 teachers to build their abilities and confidence; and deeply engage students through our competitions and career programs to build skills for life. 

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