JCJC’s Bobcat Math League expands in its fourth season

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2015-09-15 16:03:10

ELLISVILLE – As the fourth season of Jones County Junior College’s Bobcat Math League begins, high school “mathletes” will see some new faces with four teams entering competition this year. Last year, Columbia Academy, Heidelberg Academy and Oak Grove, joined the competition. The 2015 season welcomes Enterprise High School, Greene County High School, Heidelberg High School and Wayne Academy. With these four joining the Bobcat Math League’s original 19-members, mathletes will encounter some new challengers.   
“We are excited about the additional schools joining this year’s JCJC Bobcat Math League because it will add yet another dimension to the competition. However it has also forced a few changes,” said BML Commissioner and JCJC math instructor, Dr. Jessica Bunch. 
According to JCJC Math Division Chair, BML scoreboard technician and referee, Dr. Corey Jones, some other changes involve how the teams are divided. “Instead of four divisions, we have added a fifth division. The divisions are based on proximity to schools and competition results from previous years so schools are fairly and equally challenged.”
The regular season begins Monday, September 14 through Tuesday, October 20, with the final playoffs and Math “Super Bowl” to be held on November 4, 2015. All 26 teams will be invited to attend the post season when the top players will be recognized from each team. Also, the All-League Team and Most Outstanding Player will be recognized at the final competition. 
“This year we will have one less wildcard team in the playoffs. Additionally, last year we limited the number of teams from one division that could qualify for the playoffs to three teams. This year, there is no limitation,” said Bob Stevens, JCJC math instructor, BML statistician and referee.
The eight playoff teams will be determined by regular season results. The five division winners will automatically advance to the playoffs. The remaining three playoff teams will be non-division winners who will advance to the playoffs as wild card teams based on criteria outlined in the 2015 League rules.
“Our players, teams, and coaches have become more competitive each year, and we expect no less from them again this year,” said Dr. Bunch.
The recent two week pre-season testing at each of the 26 high schools helps “coaches” formulate a team roster. Each team will either travel to or host their divisional foes for five weeks of competition in the six weeks of regular season competition. Presbyterian Christian High School won the overall competition the last two years. Newcomers to the competition last year, Oak Grove were hot on their trail, missing a question in the last round. Needless to say, the Warriors are looking for vindication in the upcoming season.
“Several of our team members graduated in May, but I know that our returning students and new members are ready for the challenge!” said Oak Grove math coach, Whitney Necessary. “I loved that our students were challenged to learn new math. One of my favorite aspects of the competition is the camaraderie the team members developed after working together. They pushed to learn new topics.”
The 2014 third place winner, Sacred Heart is also looking to move up in the ranks this season. Crusaders Coach, Rick Muli said his students love the competition but the prize money has piqued more student’s interested in participating.
“After a good season last year, our principal presented the prize money to the team members during a school assembly. As a result, I had more than 10-students ask about try-outs for next year and two asked to be time-keepers or roadies!”
Math teachers/coaches and students may enjoy the competition but there’s an added benefit everyone is really starting to take notice of because of the math competition. Sacred Heart’s Kyle Mistich sums it up.
“I finally had time to finish the math portion on the ACT and I was even able to go back and check some of my work. It must have been all that practice we did for the Math League!”
Also noticed by math teachers/coaches is their students have become better mathematical thinkers, ACT scores have improved and they are challenged with new ideas and information. Columbia Academy coach, Kathy Pearce said she has seen an increase in math scores because of the BML.
“Our students felt like it was a good review for the ACT. One student made a 36 on the math portion for ACT and another student increased their score to 30 on math.”
Northeast Jones senior, and BML participant for three years, Daniel Easley attributes his ACT score increasing by four-points to a 32 because of the BML. Oak Grove junior, Allen Huang added, “I liked Math League because it gives me a chance to challenge myself and learn new math.”
There will be plenty of time to practice math skills during the next six weeks of competition and ensuing playoffs. With the formulation of a fifth division, everyone will face-off against new teams in their division. The Pythagoras Division is the only division with three original teams remaining: Collins, Perry Central and Sylva Bay. Joining them will be Columbia Academy and last year’s fourth place team, Northeast Jones.
The Fibonacci Division consists of 2013 and 14 winners, Presbyterian Christian, Enterprise and Wayne Academy as newcomers, and perennial competitors, Raleigh and Taylorsville. Competing against PCS could be quite the challenge for this division. However, Enterprise High School math teacher/coach, Justin Sollie said his team is eager to have this opportunity to meet and compete against other great math minds like themselves.
“I think its’s very valuable for them to be exposed to problems of difficulty they may not normally see in their math classes here. The students seem nervously excited about the competition since it’s our first year doing it.”
Greene County will be part of the Newton Division, joining Oak Grove, Heidelberg Academy, Mt. Olive, Richton and South Jones. This is the largest division with the most seasoned, top performing teams. With 2014’s second place winners, Oak Grove leading the pack, they could pose a threat for all involved. 
Stringer Attendance Center will battle for the top spot with Lawrence County in the Euclid Division. The Red Devils tied with Sacred Heart for third place last year and the Cougars have been a formidable force in past years. Also vying for the lead will be Bay Springs, Laurel and Seminary. 
In the Einstein Division, newcomers Heidelberg High School will have to stop Sacred Heart and Wayne County who have been perennial top-teams. Quitman and West Jones will shake up the division, also proving to be calculating and tough foes.
Regular season matches will continue to be partly written test and partly quiz bowl type competition for students. Everyone will take tests with paper and pencil for the first half of the regular season. The second half will prepare students for the final playoffs with the addition of the buzzer system and a moderator asking questions. The final eight teams will compete for cash and prizes at the playoffs in November, and the two top teams will strive to earn the title, “2015 JCJC Bobcat Math League Champions.”
“We are very appreciative of our coaches, players, principals, superintendents, parents, business sponsors and JCJC faculty and administration for their commitment to and support of the Bobcat Math League,” said Dr. Bunch.
In 2013, the BML was recognized as one of the state’s top school-community partnership programs during the 2014 Governor’s Awards luncheon, receiving the University/College Partnership Award at the 12th Annual Mississippi Association of Partners in Education’s Governor’s Awards for Outstanding School-Community Partnerships.
Donations from the private sector and community groups have enabled the League to be very visible with the participants having the option to dress out in League T-shirts. Fans can find scores in real time, at the JCJC Bobcat Math League’s Facebook page. High school students and coaches can also upload photos during practices or training sessions to share with their fan base. Local newspapers and media web pages have been invited to share competition results with weekly stories and pictures.
Dr. Bunch said she hopes every community will continue to support the Bobcat Math League by establishing prizes, donations, scholarships, gas money or by simply checking scores and reading the weekly stories in the newspaper, web page and the League’s Facebook page. 
Results will be posted on the JCJC Bobcat Math League web page under “Division Standings/Schedules at: www.jcjc.edu/bobcatmathleague/ and on the Bobcat Math League Facebook page. For more information about the Bobcat Math League contact Dr. Jessica Bunch (JCJC Bobcat Math League Commissioner) at 601-477-5422 or email at jessica.bunch@jcjc.edu.


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