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2001 MATHCOUNTS Competition Gives Them A Challenge

Past MATHCOUNTS winners (PDF file) mcount_2001.jpg (43376 bytes)
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Itís a beautiful Saturday, 63 degrees and sunny, and yet 80-plus sixth, seventh and eighth graders are doing math problems by choice.  The students are taking part in the 2001 statewide MATHCOUNTS competition sponsored by the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers, TRW Inc., CORPRINT, Nabisco, Inc. and the Virginia Tech College of Engineering.  For anyone who has witnessed one of the Virginia MATHCOUNTS championships since they began in 1987, it is obvious that the students who participate are not ordinary students.  These youngsters are truly mathletes.

Professional engineers routinely shake their head in disbelief as they watch these youngsters answer difficult mathematical questions in 45 seconds during the countdown round using only scratch paper and a pencil to help solve them.  MATHCOUNTS chairman and VSPE board member Bill Horton referred to how bright the mathletes were this year when he joked at this years contest that parents probably knew only 10 percent of the answers.

Itís obvious from the attendance that parents are critical to the success of the students.  Moms and dads fill the hallways and line the perimeter of the testing room, reading books, magazines and generally killing time until their proud student comes running for a hug at the end of the morning testing rounds.  The encouragement of parents is important for these students to give up a beautiful Saturday, as well numerous afternoons before the contest in practice sessions.  Scott and Deb Stevens are both James Madison University professors and the parents of Thomas Harrison Middle School seventh grader mathlete, 12 year old Chris.  They say, ďHis team practiced twice a week for a little over an hour a day with two algebra teachers leading up to the state finals.  Itís a real achievement that he and all of the other students are even at the state finals.Ē

Robert Sciegaj is a coach for Daniel Morgan Middle School in Winchester and Eric Miller is a coach for James Woods Middle School, also in Winchester, and are both big supporters of the MATHCOUNTS program.  They say, ďMATHCOUNTS is a good outlet for the students and gives them a challenge outside the classroom, more than the SOLs.  Itís one of the best stimulators ever invented.  These kids donít have problems with math SOLs and they need the challenge.Ē  Sciegaj gives his team an added motivator, a trip to Kings Dominion after the competition is over.

For those wondering how do you turn a typical student into a mathlete, the Stevens, who are economics and physics professors, use math at home as a game.  They have used math to help solve little problems and questions around the house on a regular basis.  Perhaps more of us should be asking our five and six year olds; if you eat three bites of beans and three bites of jell-O, how many bites have you eaten?   If we did, then maybe our children will be mathletes and earning trips to the national championships.

Parents and coaches must be doing a good job because the Virginia mathletes were second in the national competition last year and fifth in 1999.  A heartfelt congratulations to all of the mathletes at the 2001 state championships, best of luck to the Virginia team at the National championships May 10-13 in Washington, D. C. and here is the list of the winners.


Virginia MATHCOUNTS TEAM their school and locality:

1. Jack Cackler; Longfellow Middle School, Falls Church

2. Veronica Pillar; Longfellow Middle School, Falls Church

3. Eric Price; Longfellow Middle School, Falls Church

4. Thomas Mildorf; Carl Sandburg Middle School, Alexandria

5. (team alternate) Robert Brady; Longfellow Middle School, Falls Church

6. (team alternate) Jeffrey Ketchersid, Fuqua School, Prince Edward


The top scoring school teams, the locality
where they are located and the school region they represent are:

1. Longfellow Middle School, Falls Church, Northern Virginia

2. Rocky Run Middle School, Chantilly, Fairfax

3. Carl Sandburg Middle School, Alexandria, George Washington

4. Manchester Middle School, Chesterfield, Richmond

5. Andrew Lewis Middle School, Salem, Roanoke

6. Blacksburg Middle School, Blacksburg, Southwestern


The top students in the countdown round were:

1. Jack Cackler, Longfellow Middle School

2. Eric Price, Longfellow Middle School

3. Thomas Mildorf, Carl Sandburg Middle School

4. Tim Polio, Blacksburg Middle School



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