JCJC’s Bobcat Math League enters fifth season with “game changers”

Written By: Teresa McCreery
Email Address: teresa.mccreery@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2016-09-09 22:09:37

ELLISVILLE – Every year, the Bobcat Math League makes revisions to the rules and as the fifth season begins on September 12, this year’s changes may prove to make this the most interesting season of competition. Only 16 teams will be competing instead of the 26 teams that participated in the BML last year.  Ten teams, including last year’s second place team and perennial powerhouse, Stringer Attendance Center, have opted out of this year’s Bobcat Math League. 
“It’s heartbreaking to have lost 10 teams this year.  All of them gave various reasons for not competing this year. We hope they will return next year,” said Commissioner of the Bobcat Math League, and JCJC math instructor, Dr. Jessica Bunch. 
She recognizes the new requirement of an entry fee may have kept some teams from committing to the BML. However, Dr. Bunch said the fee is returned at the end of the post-season if the school meets all the contractual agreements, like ensuring all of the teams compete until the end.
“In past years, we have had teams withdraw mid-season causing logistical problems throughout the League.  Hopefully, the fee will keep teams from leaving early when things don’t go well or when students get overwhelmed by their schedules. It also helps the League become more self-sustainable instead of relying on donors,” said Dr. Bunch.
The variety of questions marks another big change this year. Instead of asking only math questions during the competition, high schools students will be tested on STEM or science, technology, engineering and math related questions.  Dr. Bunch explained none of the participating schools are considered “STEM” based so this will be new for everyone. 
“Questions will include definitions, multiple choice, computational and visual math, as well as history, like who discovered this theory,” said Dr. Bunch.  “The JCJC Math Division felt the need to extend the scope of the competition to cover areas beneficial to students, giving them experience in a broader range of fields. Additionally, the math division’s discussions with BML’s industry and professional supporters agreed to add STEM questions. Fifty-five percent of the questions will be math-related.”
Competing this year will be 16 teams, divided into four divisions.  In the Archimedes Division, Presbyterian Christian, who tied with Oak Grove for third place last year, will be a tough foe to topple. The Northeast Jones Tigers, who tied to end the season in fifth place with Taylorsville last year, have at least one bright spot; they will not have to fight with the Tartars this season. Richton and South Jones High Schools will have to work hard for a win this season in this division.  
Oak Grove High School will be eager to capture a championship title this season after missing their chance to repeat in 2014 and losing to PCS.  If the Warriors can be the Pythagoras Division leader at the end of the regular season, they will most likely face PCS in the final rounds, unless Quitman, Wayne County or West Jones High School, who have all had successful seasons in the past, beat Oak Grove to the top.
Galileo Division members, Raleigh, Sylva Bay Academy and Wayne Academy better be prepared for Sacred Heart, who will be defending their 2015 Championship title.  However, the loss of a couple of seniors may open up the way for a new top contender.
Columbia Academy, who will likely lead the Gates Division finished the 2015 season tied for seventh place. With its main foe in the Lawrence County Cougars opting out this season, the Columbia Academy Cougars may be fierce competitors. Also battling for the division lead will be Collins, Laurel High School and Perry Central.
Regular season matches will continue to be partly written test and partly quiz bowl type competition for students. Participants 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 six-week regular season ends Tuesday, October 18, with the final playoffs and Math “Super Bowl” to be held on November 2, 2016.  All 16 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. 
The six playoff teams will be determined by regular season results.  The four division winners will automatically advance to the playoffs.  The remaining two playoff teams will be non-division winners who will advance to the playoffs as wild card teams based on criteria outlined in the 2016 League rules.
Dr. Bunch said she’s proud the BML has not only improved students’ math scores but it has been recognized statewide. For the second time, the BML has been honored as one of the state’s top school-community partnership programs. During the 2014 Governor’s Awards luncheon, JCJC’s Bobcat Math League received the University/College Partnership Award at the Annual Mississippi Association of Partners in Education’s Governor’s Awards for Outstanding School-Community Partnerships. The BML was recognized in 2016 for this same honor.  
“We were thrilled to be recognized twice by the MAPE for this unique math competition,” said Dr. Bunch.  However, none of this would be possible without the dedication of the teachers, students and our community supporters.”
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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