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PC teams compete at math tourney

By Staff
Kim West
HANCEVILLE – The Phil Campbell seventh and eighth grade math teams have taken advantage of a regional competition this fall to prepare for its spring schedule.
Phil Campbell, one of six Franklin County schools to field competitive math teams, entered the fourth annual Phi Theta Kappa Middle School Invitational at Wallace State Community College Oct. 18. The Bobcats played in the Class 1A-4A division, which included 15 schools from Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.
The math tournament was divided into two individual portions – a timed 25-question written exam that penalizes incorrect answers and a ciphering event at Drake Coliseum. In ciphering, each student is given four problems to solve on a board within 90 seconds.
"They had no idea what to expect, and the math at the tournament was harder than the math they study at school," said Phil Campbell math teacher Judy Baker, who has coached the junior high math teams for the past 12 years. "To prepare, they worked on old tests and we spent a week or two before the tournament practicing as a team."
Seventh graders Trevor Farley, Colton Baker, Brittany Thomas and Chris Thomas and eighth graders Kim Seals, Brooke Hallman, Cody Fuller and Bryon Weeks competed for Phil Campbell, which has captured one seventh grade and three eighth grade county championships in the past four years.
Chris Thomas was the team-high scorer on the seventh grade team, while Seals led the eighth graders by placing fourth among a total of 100 students with a score of 38, just nine points off the overall winner.
"I've always really liked math, and it's been my favorite subject since kindergarten," said Seals, a National Junior Honor Society member who gave up marching band to participate on the math team. "I wasn't expecting to win, and I was just trying to listen to see if anyone from Phil Campbell had won an award. When they called out my name, I was surprised but it made me feel good inside because it was kind of loud and everyone was cheering."
Baker said she was still pleased with the team's performance, despite not winning a team trophy.
"I was really proud of them for finishing in the top 10 as a team – I didn't expect us to place in this competition because of all the bigger schools in our division – and for having a student who placed fourth overall," Baker said. "I wanted them to get some experience, which should help in the spring for the Muscle Shoals tournament after Christmas and the county tournament at Northwest-Shoals in April because our goal is to always place at those competitions.
"We always want to win a team trophy and have as many students as possible to finish in the top 10 individually."
Baker said the tournaments allow students to meet peers who also enjoy math and provides a fun trip away from school.
"A majority of students don't love math but these kids do," Baker said. "It's fun for them because they get to see all these students who love math, too. They get a chance to go to lunch after the competition is over and go to the mall. The only bad part is getting up so early on a Saturday morning."