Mussio places fourth nationally

STEUBENVILLE – Theresa Danaher promised her seventh- and eighth-graders pizza and a movie if they finished first in Ohio in an online math competition designed to increase their mathematics skills.

Now the principal of Bishop John King Mussio Junior High School is planning an outing at Belleview Park complete with games and a cookout because the 135 school pupils not only finished first in Ohio but earned fourth place out of more than 5,000 schools nationwide.

“We first learned about this math competition at a middle school conference. We were interested in increasing our students’ math fluency, so we decided to pursue the program and entered the competition in November. Students were asked to complete math problems on a timed basis. The problems increase in difficulty and promote a high level of learning skills,” said Danaher.

“The students were allowed to do some of the work while at school but were also encouraged to work on the problems at home as well. We offered in-school incentives like dress down days to the students. And we have an anonymous benefactor who donated an iPad mini to be awarded to one of our six grand champion winners. Alex Hermann won the iPad mini,” said Danaher.

“The top scoring grand champion student at our school was Alec Tegano,” noted Danaher.

“I like math and enjoyed doing the work. At home I was probably on my computer three to four hours a night solving problems. But I am running track now and eased off that a little,” Tegano said.

Tegano and the Mussio pupils were recognized Thursday afternoon by Suntex International, the company that created the math game, during a school assembly.

“The company was posting the daily ratings at midnight every day and our students would arrive at school every day to ask where we were ranked. That’s when I and the staff promised pizza and a movie if we could finish first out of 468 schools competing in Ohio,” related Danaher.

“The company then started posting real time rankings on the final day of the competition. We were announcing the rankings every hour. We were competing for sixth place nationally against St. Nicholas Middle School in Newark, N.J., but our students really got competitive and we learned we actually finished in fourth place,” remarked Danaher.

“Our initial goal was to finish in the top 100 on a national basis. We had started later than a lot of other schools, so we thought the top 100 was a reasonable goal. I am so proud of our students because they really got involved and worked hard. This was a tremendous program and our kids were outstanding,” she added.

“The firm notified us we had the highest percentage of mathematicians in the entire national program. I think that shows the preparation our students have had in grade school and our junior high school,” commented Danaher.

“We will rent a shelter at Belleview Park our last week of school. And we will have softball, soccer and basketball games. And of course a cookout,” Danaher said.

“And we want to continue encouraging our students next year to work on their math skills. We plan on taking part in this competition again in the fall. Our seventh-graders have already said their goal is to finish first in the next contest,” noted Danaher.