Fifth and sixth-grade mathletes from across Bulloch County gathered last Saturday morning at Southeast Bulloch High School for their own version of March Madness - the 27th Annual Penny Sikes Math Tournament.
A mini-version of the Georgia Southern University Math Tournament, the event is open to all the county's public, private and home-schooled students and features an individual test and two, team ciphering rounds.
Hosted each year by the SEB Math Department and sponsored by Farmers and Merchants Bank, the 2011 tournament consisted of 147 students. Each came donned in colorful shirts designating their school team.
With their pre-tournament practices and preparations done, each team's faculty coach waited anxiously in a nearby classroom room and chatted with peers during the individual test round. Then for the second round, ciphering portion coaches, parents, siblings and other supporters packed the gymnasium's home side to watch and cheer on their teams. A large projection screen allowed spectators to see each question and test their own skills.
Virginia Everett, head of the Southeast Bulloch High Math Department, and her fellow math faculty, Cindy Dean, Amy Bettinger, Pat Collins, Susan Boddiford, Lynn Brison, Kristen Barnhill and Dawn Zuver, organize the event each year.
"We would like to thank everyone for coming and supporting the tournament, and we especially want to thank Farmers and Merchants Bank," Everett said. "Without them we wouldn't have a tournament, and our teams would have to pay a large entrance fee. Their donation allows our teams to participate for free."
The event is named for Penny Sikes, a former Bulloch County Schools math teacher and administrator, who began the tournament in 1984. Sikes retired from the system after serving at both SEB and Statesboro High School to oversee the Partnership for Reform in Science and Mathematics (PRISM) Grant at Georgia Southern University. Both the Penny Sikes Math Tournament and the Nan Rushing Write-off for language arts began with grants from the Bulloch County Board of Education and have continued for more than 20 years.
The following is a list of this year's winners:
Fifth Grade Overall Teams - Bulloch Academy, first place; Julia P. Bryant Elementary, second place; and Brooklet Elementary School, third place.
Sixth Grade Overall Teams - William James Middle School, first place; Southeast Bulloch Middle, second place; and Langston Chapel Middle School, third place.
Fifth Grade Ciphering Teams - Bulloch Academy, first place; Brooklet Elementary School, second place; and Mattie Lively Elementary, third place.
Sixth Grade Ciphering Teams - William James Middle School, first place; Trinity Christian School, second place; and Southeast Bulloch Middle School, third place.
Top Ten Fifth Grade Individuals - Matthew McGrath, JPBES, first place; Skyler Shuman, Nevils Elementary School, second place; Caleb Dowden, Sallie Zetterower Elementary School, third place; Thomas Bowen, JPBES, fourth place; Laurabeth Bland, Brooklet Elementary School, fifth place; Brandon Merrill, Bulloch Academy, sixth place; Georgianna James, Bulloch Academy, seventh place; Lachlan Roe, NES, eighth place; Morgan Oliff, Mill Creek Elementary, ninth place; and Jay Jung, SZES, tenth place.
Top Ten Sixth Grade Individuals - Jacob Head, SEBMS, first place; Deshauna Williams, WJMS, second place; Ria Mitra, WJMS, third place; Kevin Chen, LCMS, fourth place; Alex Brown, WJMS, fifth place; Leanna Marz, WJMS, sixth place; Wyatt Turner, SEBMS, seventh place; Ashley Williams, WJMS, eighth place; Andrea Appleton, SEBMS, ninth place; and Joseph Muldrew, SEBMS, tenth place.