JCJC’s inaugural Math League kicks off competition at 20 schools

Written By: Teresa Martin
Email Address: teresa.martin@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2012-09-07 08:40:58

ELLISVILLE – It may be football season in the South but the first week of September also marks the beginning of Jones County Junior College’s inaugural Bobcat Math League competition. Two weeks of math league pre-season competition at Bay Springs, Heidelberg, Quitman, Sylva Bay, Mize, Raleigh, Stringer, Taylorsville, Perry Central, Laurel, South Jones, Richton, Collins, Lawrence County, Mt. Olive, Seminary, Northeast Jones, Presbyterian Christian, Wayne County and West Jones high schools has begun. 
“The Bobcat Math League is an extension of the college’s annual Math Bowl,” explained JCJC Bobcat Math League Commissioner and math instructor, Jessica Bunch. “Instead of just one day of competition between these schools JCJC’s math instructors will be overseeing six weeks of competition leading up to the ‘Super Bowl’ of math.
Just like in athletics, each school will choose its team based on the student’s performance during the pre-season. Potential “math-letes” have access to four practice sessions during the pre-season to get a feel for the timed, computer-based testing platform. All of the regular season matches are online tests that will be taken on the home team’s computers using JCJC’s Blackboard platform, with JCJC math instructors officiating the “games”.
“We see the Bobcat Math League as a foundation to get more students involved and to cultivate math skills,” said Bunch. “We’re hoping to produce stronger college students and community leaders. As math skills are developed student’s career path options expand into fields like engineering.”
Regular season competition begins September 24, and will continue through November 5. And just like in sports, the math league is also divided into divisions. There are five divisions of four schools taking part in the regular season. Four schools will compete within their divisions weekly, earning the right to play in the post season. Three additional teams will join the five division winners in the final playoff round in November – one from winning the shoot-out round of the post season and two from being the two highest scoring non-division winning team of the regular season. The shoot-out round of post season competition will take place on Wednesday, November 7, at JCJC and will be played amongst those teams not already advancing to the final playoffs from the regular season – this will include any high school team not participating in the regular season.
“Teams playing in the regular season will have a greater chance of making it to the playoffs because they will have more practice,” advised Bunch.
One of the college’s biggest supporters of the Bobcat Math League is Laurel’s Chris Wilson. As an Economic Development Authority strategic planning committee member, he saw JCJC’s Math Bowl when it debuted in 2008 and rallied area businesses to support the competition with cash and prize donations. He believes the math league is an opportunity to strengthen the Pine Belt’s educational and economic development prospects. JCJC’s President Dr. Jesse Smith reinforced Wilson’s efforts by allowing the JCJC math department to facilitate this effort at any school within JCJC’s eight-county district wanting to participate. He recognizes the unique approach to promoting math achievement through competition as a win for every community.
“The end result is increased math competency which will be evidenced by an overall increased awareness of which schools and students are math competitors, not to mention the growth in math test scores.  These results will definitely make our community more competitive and innovative which in turn should mean economic growth.  Everything we do at the college is designed to impact the community in some way.  I think this is one of the best ideas in a long while.”
One drawback from a “fans” point of view is the only opportunity to cheer on the home team is during the culmination of the season at the ‘Super Bowl’ of math on Tuesday, November 15, at JCJC. Wayne County won the first competition in 2008 and brought home the trophy again last year. Stringer Attendance Center has consistently proven to be a rival of every team as a three-time runner-up team. 
“We hope every community will support the Bobcat Math League,” said JCJC Dean of Liberal Arts, Dr. Shannon Campbell. “One easy way to get involved is to support the teams with gas money to travel to the various high schools, establish prizes or scholarships, and support your team during the entire season by checking the scores in the newspapers or on the JCJC Math League Scoreboard web page at: http://www.jcjc.edu/bobcatmathleague/.”
The champions of this year’s competition will take home cash, prizes, scholarships, and/or trophies provided by some of the math league’s current sponsors. Past and/or current sponsors of this academic endeavor include: Joe Frank Sanderson (CEO of Sanderson Farms), Sanderson Farms, the Chisholm Foundation, the EDA of Jones County, Mississippi Power Company, Community Bank, First State Bank, Magnolia Bank, Trustmark Bank, Richton Bank and Trust, Foil-Wyatt Architects, Jefferson Medical, Sandra Wright-Magnolia Realtors, Domino’s Pizza and Corner Market. JCJC officials also hope “math-letes” will become hometown heroes as more businesses support the math league and the fan base grows. For more information about the Bobcat Math League contact Jessica Bunch (JCJC Bobcat Math League Commissioner) at 601-477-5422 or email at jessica.bunch@jcjc.edu.


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