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Monticello Elementary Academic Team has remarkable season

Monticello Elementary Academic Team

Members of elementary academic team

Monticello Elementary Team (seated l-r:) 4th graders Harley Troxell, Adahlynn Camp, Jasper Jones (standing l-r:) fifth graders Abigail Curtis and Hunter Morgan (back middle) Academic Coach Mitchell Gregory

Hunter Morgan and Jasper Jones

Regional medal winners Hunter Morgan and Jasper Jones

Monticello Elementary Team performs at top levels in spite of adversity

      It has been difficult enough to master virtual, hybrid, limited in-person study schedules this past school year, so to have put together an extra-curricular academic team who saw considerable success is pretty amazing.

      Even though the odds were against it, a determined coach and five amazing fourth and fifth graders rallied to make impressive strides through the chain of mind boggling tests offered by the Kentucky Association for Academic Competition. Academic Team competition is a tough challenge for any student under normal conditions, so just to participate in the 2021 season is a tribute to these students.

      With that being said, Monticello Elementary School is proud of the journey the team took, with two members – fourth grader Jasper Jones and fifth grader Hunter Morgan – having the privilege of testing their general knowledge at the state level.

       Jasper, a virtual student, scored 20 out of 35. His strong suite is Social Studies where he scored seven out of seven. His mask even shows off his passion for the subject since it is decorated with maps.

      “He is an outstanding Science student as well,” explained Monticello Elementary Academic Coach Mitchell Gregory, noting he scored five out of seven on those questions.

       “Check out his Language Arts score of four out of seven. Considering he did not test in that subject indicates why I wanted to see him take this test. He certainly has a wide range of knowledge,” said Coach Gregory.

       Hunter scored 21 out of 35. “He is a well-rounded student. His focus on academic team this year was Math and Science and that shows in his results (He scored five out of seven in Math and four out of seven in Science). Last year he medaled in Social Studies and his score was five out of seven,” said Coach Gregory.

       “Like Jasper, he has never focused on Language Arts and he answered over half of the questions correctly.”

       Their state assessment results are truly impressive for their age. Consider a few of the questions:

    What is the least common multiple of 4, 6, and 15?

     Correct answer: 60


     Which choice below gives the correct measurement of a straight angle?

     Correct answer: 180 degrees


      Which of the following Aesop fables contrasts a simple meal eaten in peace with a fancy meal threatened by predators?

      Correct answer: “The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”

       “ I felt like they showed a broad knowledge base to be able to excel in this statewide event.  Once again they were faced with 30 questions. The questions were even among the content areas of math, science, social studies, language arts, and arts & humanities.  Each content had six questions,” said Coach Gregory, who could not have been prouder of their efforts.

       Prior to the state test, Monticello Elementary had four players – Jasper Jones, Hunter Morgan, Abigail Curtis, and Harley Troxell - who had advanced to Region 11 Governor’s Cup competition last month. There were 14 schools competing.  Hunter medaled in both events he advanced to.  Jasper advanced in two of the three he advanced to.

      According to the regional results, Hunter took third in Math with 22 correct answers out of 30.  The champion in Math scored a 24.  

Hunter finished fourth in Science, also with 22 correct answers.  The winner had 23 in Science.  There are six tie breaker questions which played a role in the Science test. Jasper tied as Science runner-up.  He answered 23 correctly. 

Jasper tied for champion in Social Studies with 25 correct answers.

     “Monticello Elementary finished the event in 6th place with 13 points.  The runner-up team, however, only garnered 16 points,” in comparison, said Coach Gregory.

      Participation in that competition was dependent on the results from the district level where Monticello Elementary really stood out and got the ball rolling for future successes. They were named runners-up at the district level with Cumberland County placing first after having the advantage of winning Quick Recall and placing second in Future Problem Solving.

      “Our academic team consisted of only five players (Adahlynn Camp, Harley Troxell, Abigail Curtis, Jasper Jones, and Hunter Morgan) this year, yet we were named the District 36 Governor's Cup Runner-Up.  We did not compete with any of the same schools as last year.  Plus, there were five schools competing this year instead of four.  Also, we did not participate in any of the team events like Quick Recall or Future Problem Solving.  So, what happened is we totally outperformed the other schools on the written assessments,” recalled Coach Gregory. 

      Gregory, who serves as assistant principal at Monticello Elementary told their instructional staff, “That boils down to the intentional instruction you are delivering to these students everyday whether they are in-person or virtual.  Our team consisted of four in-person students and one virtual student.”

      “We had a clean sweep in Science. We could only test three students in any given area. So, first, second and third place was incredible!” said Coach Gregory. 

 At the district competition scores were: 

*Science - Jasper Jones 1st place (21 out of 30), Hunter Morgan 2nd place (20), Abigail Curtis 3rd place (19)

 *Math - Hunter Morgan 1st place (26), Jasper Jones 5th place (20)

 *Social Studies - Jasper Jones 1st place (27)

 *Arts and Humanities - Abigail Curtis 2nd place (12), Harley Troxell 4th place (11)

       If it had not been for Gregory’s recruiting, contacting, and asking teachers to recommend students – the team would not have existed. “I wanted our veteran students to have the opportunity to compete. I reached out to each of them and only two wanted to participate in this pandemic environment, especially with in-school days being so sporadic and uncertain.”

       Some of the students notified said they might be interested next year as they were hoping for a better school year in 2021-22. At the last moment, the team became complete with a minimum of five players.

      And, if that was not challenging enough, the Written Assessment portion of the competition had to be postponed due to power outages.

      “In a normal year we would have traveled to Edmonton. But, the event was virtual this year. Three of my players were Monday/Wednesday students. One was Tuesday/Thursday, but I got approval for him to come in anyway, especially since we thought we were going to be in a four-day week at that time. Finally, there was one virtual student, but he was able to come in for the event.”

     They set up in the fifth-grade computer lab. Each student tested from a chromebook. Assistant Coach Tammye Sumpter physically proctored the room but she set up a camera on a chromebook for a virtual proctor from a different school to observe ensuring everything was on the up-and-up.

     The students deserve credit for their motivation and efforts, especially since they did not have the advantage of the usual after school practices or perhaps zoom meetings. In the past, Assistant Coach Sumpter came in early and copied the test (they have a vast collection of tests and practice rounds for students to learn from) they were going to focus on that afternoon. Then in most cases, she would grade them that night after practice. The practice also included online kahoot games, a Quick Recall match or two, or time to allow the Future Problem Solving team to focus on their topic.

      But, due to the circumstances it was time to go digital. So Coach Gregory, with the help of Instructional Assistant Patricia Keith, started scanning the collection of tests so they could be put into Google Classroom. For each content area, they have tests from most years between 2000 and 2020. So, most of the players started studying facts and information from home through Google Classroom. Then they took the previous tests and submitted work for Gregory to grade in order to practice.

      So, it has been a unique and challenging season for academic team competition, but definitely worth the effort that the students and coaches put into it at Monticello Elementary. At the very least a lesson in perseverance has been learned.

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