In an era of volatile financial markets and catastrophic shifts in the fortunes of some industries and even nations, at least one group of financial managers has kept a steady hand on the till: seniors at Flintridge Preparatory School's investments class, taught by Assistant Headmaster Peter Vaughan.

As chronicled in the April 12 issue, students in the class of 1997 started with a $35,000 angel investment from members of the Flintridge Prep board of trustees. The fund, managed by subsequent classes of students, is now worth $188,000. Though there has been a subsequent cash infusion from trustees, most of that total has been generated by a successful student investment strategy.

The financial payoff points to another and more important payoff: the resounding success of Vaughan's investment class in teaching a range of important skills. To understand a business or industry sector, figure out where it fits into a moving macroeconomic picture, and then guess right more often than not shows extraordinary critical thinking capabilities. The fact that the students furiously debate their choices, and even consider the seemingly lost topic of business ethics — as they are doing now with their shares of Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs and have in the past with tobacco firms — suggests a focus on the art of persuasion and a willingness to respect differing views.

In our view, Flintridge Prep, Vaughan and his special class are solid investments that will pay dividends throughout many students' lifetimes.