Burgettstown students participate in regional math competition

BURGETTSTOWN, Pa. – The Burgettstown Middle School MATHCOUNTS team participated in the Feb. 9 regional competition, with eighth-grader Dante Marcucci placing third overall among 100 pupils and qualifying to compete in the Pennsylvania State Competition, being held March 22-23 at the Sheraton Harrisburg-Hershey. Those who qualify at the state competition will move on to the 2013 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS Competition May 10 in Washington, D.C.

The team includes Marcucci, Timmy Seech, Dane Sabo, Bailey Sharp and Jackie Wingard. Linda O’Brien and Melissa Ferencuha are the coaches.

Marcucci’s third-place showing is the highest a pupil from Burgettstown has achieved in recent memory, said O’Brien, who is a gifted teacher with the district. Burgettstown pupils have placed as high as fourth place, and other top 10 finishers have come in at fifth and eighth place.

MATHCOUNTS Club is available to sixth- through eighth-graders at the middle school, and the club meets twice a month. In preparation for the competition, the pupils worked through problems in a workbook provided by the MATHCOUNTS organization. Students are provided with 300 problems and activities in the annual MATHCOUNTS School Handbook. The children worked on the problems, beginning in October, with the assistance of O’Brien and Ferencuha.

Marcucci, who has participated in MATHCOUNTS at Burgettstown since he was a sixth-grader, said his goal has been to place in the top 10. Last year, he placed 11th, just missing his goal, and this was his last year to be eligible to participate.

“They were counting down from 10, and when they passed seventh, sixth place, I thought I didn’t get it,” he said. “Then they called me third, and I was really happy. That was awesome.”

Marcucci said he enjoyed the competition and the chance to socialize with his teammates and other pupils during periodic breaks throughout the competition.

The competition includes several rounds, including a team round and a “sprint round” judged for speed. There also is a team round.

“We broke up into two groups, and the younger, less experienced kids took the easier questions, and the older kids, who had more experience, took the tougher questions,” said Marcucci.

Ferencuha, a math teacher, will be preparing Marcucci for the state competition.

“Mrs. Ferencuha has offered to help Dante with some problems,” said O’Brien. “We are very proud of Dante. It is a joy and honor to have him representing our school at the state competition.”

Although Marcucci said he was nervous for the regional competition, he said he is looking forward to the state competition.

“I’m looking forward to the competition,” he said. “It will be interesting. I just hope I do well and have fun.”

Marcucci is the son of Paul and Amy Marcucci of Burgettstown. He also is a member of the school’s track team and participates in LitFest, a regional academic competition based on knowledge of classical literature, and the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.

Other schools participating included Allison Park Elementary, California Middle School, Canonsburg Middle School, Charleroi Middle School, Chartiers-Houston, John F. Kennedy, Madonna Catholic Regional, McGuffey Middle School, Peters Township Middle School, Ringgold Middle School, Trinity Middle School and Washington Junior High School.

MATHCOUNTS is a national math enrichment, coaching and competition program with the goal of increasing enthusiasm for and enhancing achievement in middle school mathematics. The competition is open to pupils in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. The competition provides pupils with a forum for math achievement and rewards them for their accomplishments.

The regional MATHCOUNTS competition was sponsored by Washington County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, District 12 Business and Professional Women’s Clubs and the Mathematics and Education departments of Washington and Jefferson College.

(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at swallace@pafocus.com)