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Mar 12, 2009

Belizean Christian Academy wins Math Olympiad 2009

Story PictureHigh school students flocked to the Belize City Center for the much anticipated final competition of the third annual Math Olympiad and for the first time the winner hails from the Cayo District. The finalists representing all six districts were tested for best speed and accuracy in line with the mathematics curriculum of secondary schools. Duane Moody reports.

Duane Moody, Reporting
The Finals for the Belize Math Olympiad were off to an exciting start. The competition was fierce and the past two champions, St. John’s College and Corozal Community College, were giving the other four finalists a run for their money. C.E.O. of the Social Security Board, Merlene Bailey-Martinez, says that the board has moved the competition to Belize City and the individuals are good.

Merlene Bailey-Martinez, C.E.O. Social Security Board
“We hope that we are experiencing some excitement about mathematics and for the kids who are involved, those who are watching, those in the schools, they know that math can be excite, that they know that there are benefits to learning mathematics, and stimulating creativity in mathematics as the theme says. The Math Olympiad is the brainchild of Social Security staff because they wanted to do something really special for the twenty-fifth anniversary of Social Security and they though this is an actuarial institution because when you’re into—Social Security is usually an insurance. So it followed naturally that they would want to do something. We had the spelling bee, we have the food and nutrition, we have the social quizzes and Social Security is essentially an actuarial institution so that’s why they came up with a mathematical quiz to stimulate the children. We have gotten positive feed back about an increase in the positive attitude towards mathematics. But we’ve also gotten in a limited way, a feedback that the kids are doing better because you know we had some problem with our kids performing in mathematics at the primary level and at the secondary level and we have gotten—at least one of the schools that have participated have reported that their kids are actually doing better at math because of the preparation that goes into the Math Olympiad.”

Collaboration for the Olympiad came from the Ministry of Education and the Association of Principals of Secondary Schools. And according to President of the Association, Salome Tillett, the competition has bolstered the performance level of the participants.

Salome Tillett, President, A.P.S.S.
“We see the development of math in our secondary schools as key to the development of other skills; analysis, discipline, focus and so we were very supportive when Social Security approached us. In fact, the principals who were themselves math teachers were quite happy to work on the committee, to work on developing questions, to be a part of the ground work.”

Duane Moody
“Their level in the mathematics increased since the inception of the Olympiad?”

Salome Tillett
“Well, this is the third year and we have not done any mathematical or statistical analysis that we have been able to directly relate to the implementation of the Math Olympiad but I know that the interest and enthusiasm is certainly there. We get kids that want to be—that plan from a year ahead ‘I want to be in the competition next year’. They have the interest from the school supporting the teams and I’m sure that that is true in all the schools that have representation and in fact, you can see that in the number of teams that participated this year.”

According to representatives from the various schools, it took months of preparation to get to this stage of the competition.

Duane Moody
“What is it that it takes to compete in something like this?”

Nadine Williams, Head of Mathematics Department, St. John’s College
“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and practice. The thing about it, I think you’ll know that all the schools that are here have sent their best students. So it’s a matter of speed and accuracy. They all know it. They do know this stuff. They know their content and they know it very well but it just takes speed, accuracy and it’s a lot of practice. They too get weary, teachers get weary; it’s a lot of hard work, long hours, long evenings.”

And at the end of the competition, the Belize Christian Academy from the Cayo District proved its mettle.

Duane Moody
“B.C.A. won the 2009 Math Olympiad for the first time. It was completely unexpected. How do you feel about that?”

Robin Kimball, Math Teacher, Belize Christian Academy
“We feel very good. The first year we came in second in the nationals and we’ve been waiting to get back here so we could try to make a victory and this year we pulled it off and I’m very proud of them.”

Duane Moody
“I know last year you guys didn’t even place, this time around you’re the top dogs. How did you guys prepare for this year to take the title?”

Robin Kimball
“Well, last year we had a totally different math program and we did some readjusting this year but we also did a lot more preparation with practice works so the kids were used to the time limit. On Tuesday the teachers competed against the kids and they beat pants off the teachers. It was really good so we just kept on practicing and preparing for the actual competition. We did not work as a group very often, maybe once a month until this last month or so where we got together each morning during homeroom, which is a half an hour a day, and on election day we had no school so we got together and just kinda sat around a coffee table and quizzed for about four hours. But other than that it’s just been in the classroom, just drilling in the classrooms and practicing. We make a lot of our quizzes the same way that this is run so they get use to it. The final round was actually what made the difference because we talked about the category and if the category was one that they were very confident in, like algebra or sets, it would have been high; if they weren’t they bid low and just do the best they could. They were very smart in how they bid and they got the question right but they still were very smart and I think that made all the difference.”

Duane Moody
“What was that question about? In which genre of mathematics?”

Robin Kimball
“It was consumer arithmetic.”

Merlene Bailey-Martinez
“We have a long list of prizes but I think the most important for the student is to have a trophy and so we also have those trophies so it’s really exciting.”

Duane Moody reporting for News Five.

The Belize Christian Academy took the title with two thousand six hundred points. Coming in second was St. John’s College with one thousand eight hundred points and St. Catherine’s Academy with one thousand eight hundred points. Last year’s champs, the Corozal Community College placed third with one thousand four hundred points.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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