The fifth annual Rensburg Sheppards/Business Telegraph Schools' Fantasy Share Race is now well under way.
The 32 teams from across Northern Ireland who are participating this year have each invested a fictional £100,000 in a portfolio of shares selected from the FTSE 350 Index.
Brian Craig, senior investment director at Rensburg Sheppards' Belfast office, said: "A wide variety of companies were selected, although noticeably Northern Rock has featured heavily, no doubt as a result of being in the news lately following its well-documented problems.
"The stock market, as measured by the FTSE 350 Index of leading companies, has fallen by over 3.49% since the October 17 closing date for entries amidst some volatile trading, however it has been encouraging to note that 12 of the schools taking part in this year's 'race' have so far managed to outperform this benchmark."
Bangor Grammar have raced into an early lead in the competition - helped by their holding in Rio Tinto, which saw its shares surge by 33% following a takeover approach by BHP Billiton.
St Patrick's of Dungannon are running Bangor GS a close second, though, and are just £23 behind.
Last year's winners, Belfast's Malone College, find themselves one off the bottom at the end of week three, having been adversely affected by their large exposure to Northern Rock, which has fallen by 20%.
Mr Craig further pointed out: "It must be remembered that the competition is a marathon, rather than a sprint and there is still plenty of time for lost ground to be made up.
"Doubtless there will be plenty of shocks and scares ahead for the teams before the final closing date on February 15."