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Mt. Pleasant Area students undergo 'mental madness'

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:03 p.m.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant's Kaelea Hayes, 10, competes during the recent event held at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant's Hunter Tate, 11, competes in the recently held 'Mental Madness' gifted program event at Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School.
Kelly Vernon | The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Mt. Pleasant Area Junior High School students Ashton Clark, 12, (left) and Elijah Wilson, 12, compete in a game during the recently held 'Mental Madness' game sessions held for gifted students at the Mt. Pleasant Area Junior-Senior High School.

Students in Mt. Pleasant Area's elementary school gifted program recently matched wits with their counterparts from other area school districts during “Mental Madness” — a first-time event held on district grounds.

The title of the function was inspired by the game “Minute to Win It,” and it featured 26 game stations for students in fourth through sixth grades in the junior-high school gymnasium, said Rachel Long, the program's adviser.

During the event, students had to choose their game strategies and decide what games to focus on based on the level of difficulty and point values for each, along with which lines to play were shortest.

Also taking part were students from Southmoreland, Greater Latrobe, Franklin Regional and Penn-Trafford.

The Mt. Pleasant Area students have traveled to other districts for many competition events in the past, Long said, so they were eager to host a multi-school event close to home.

“We have a wonderful venue, so I thought it would be nice to take advantage, and it turned out well,” Long said.

The event was originally slated to be held on the school's football field at Viking Stadium, but the potential for rain moved it into the gym.

Many people contributed to the success of the event including junior-senior high school principal Ken Williams, who was very helpful in planning and preparing for the event, Long said.

In addition, high school students belonging to the Social Emotional Assessment and Learning program manned the 26 game stations to assist the younger students.

Southmoreland gifted adviser Lisa Shinsky took 12 students to the event, she said.

Shinsky is no stranger to this type of event hosting a math and improv theater event each year, she added.

“It was well-organized, and the students had a lot of fun,” Shinsky said.

The students were required to complete the task at each station within one minute.

They were permitted to go back and retry each station as many times as it took to complete it in the allotted time.

“I think it was very challenging to try all the different games. I like that we get to interact with other gifted students from different school districts,” said Krista Polanofsky, a fourth-grade student at Norvelt Elementary School.

The point value of each game ranged from two to five points depending on the level of skill required to successfully complete them, Long said.

Southmoreland's Michael Klatt, 11, said his favorite game was stack attack, in which students were required to stack 28 plastic cups into a triangle-shaped structure. Competitors were then required to reform the cups back into a single stack. That game was worth five points.

If students completed all 13 games on one of two score sheets, they were awarded an additional 10 points.

Students competed against other students at their respective grade levels, Long said.

The top three winners at each grade level were recognized at the conclusion of the competition.

Each student attending received a certificate of participation.

For Mt. Pleasant Area, Alexandra Hamm placed first and Hannah Brown placed second in the fifth-grade division, while Logan Andrews placed first and Ben Yeskey placed third among the district's fourth-graders. Nick Formato placed third in the fifth-grade division for Southmoreland.

Kelly Vernon is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-547-5722 or