North Central High School teacher Dempsey Ortega experienced the honor of his life Friday afternoon when he closed the $20 trillion New York Stock Exchange.
The Opening Bell and Closing Bell signal the start and finish of a trading day on the stock exchange. Typically, ringing the bell is an honor offered to congressmen, heads of state, CEOs of companies listed on the exchange and other prominent figures.
On Friday, the closing honors fell to a group of teachers who were in New York City for an NYSE workshop. Names were drawn, and Ortega’s was the first.
At 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Ortega stood on the oldest section of the market behind the lectern in New York City and took his place in history as a market closer. He’s second from the left in a photo posted at www.nyse.com in the events section.
“I’m still pinching myself,” Ortega said by phone hours after the closing.
Ortega called his wife, mother and other family members to let them know he would be one of the faces on the closing podium, which is broadcast by CNN.
Ortega, a marketing teacher and cross country track coach, has been in New York since last week.
For the past five years, Ortega’s students have played a six-week lesson where they invest an imaginary $500,000 in the stock market. Now Ortega can say he stood on the floor next to a trader who – while chatting with Ortega – made more than a million dollars in trades.