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Reading may be fun but MathCounts Ringgold students learn

| Sunday, April 4, 2010

After a hiatus of many years, the Ringgold Middle School rejoined the MathCounts contest that was held for schools in Washington County, and took an impressive third place.

"I'm very proud of them," faculty adviser and gifted program instructor Sara Philips said of her team of eight who competed. "They worked hard, and it showed."

The purpose of the competition is to increase enthusiasm and enhance achievements in mathematics on the middle school level.

After several students approached Phillips expressing their interest in competing, she decided to offer the testing for the competition and put together a team.

"It's an annual event, but we haven't competed for a long time because there wasn't any interest," Phillips said. "About 30 kids took the test that was given, and the top scorers were then chosen for the team."

In addition to getting help from seventh-grade math teacher James Ferguson and eighth-grade math teacher Jon Kelley, the students received extra assistance from retired teacher Paul Poziviak, who worked with the students several times each week to prepare them for the competition.

"Mr. Poziviak worked with the students and helped prepare them for the test," Phillips said. "He comes in to help with the PSSA's, and he also worked with the students to get them ready."

The advanced math and math functions that the students worked with and learned were far more advanced than what students in their grade levels usually study.

"This is very advanced math," Phillips said, adding that the math learned was high school level.

When the students competed in the March contest, they took tests individually and as a team, with two of the students attaining scores that were good enough to advance them to the state competitions, which will be held later in the school year.

"I like math a lot. It's my favorite subject," said Devin Beck who placed sixth out of the 82 students who competed.

Beck added that although the students studied long hours for the competition, they were still surprised by some of the content on the test.

"There was some stuff on there that we never learned," Beck said.

Nathaniel Patton came in fourth and is looking forward to the state competitions and is continuing to learn new functions.

"I kind of expected some of the problems to be ones that I didn't know, but I didn't think that there would be so many," Patton said, "I was shocked and happy when I heard my score. I have been practicing twice a week with the coach, but I was still surprised."

Both Patton and Beck plan to study and learn as much as they can before the state contest in Harrisburg.

"I think these students should be proud of the great showing that they had," Phillips said, "I'm proud of what they achieved. We are just a little school here, and they came out and beat students from the much larger districts, and I think that is just so impressive."

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