Source: Sherman Publications

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Brain games equal trophies

by CJ Carnacchio

March 30, 2011

OES students (not in order) included Ethan Matteson, Logan Streeter, Paige Hodder, Karson Ulatowski, Kaitlyn Fox, Tommy Giberson, Amanda Callendar, Gavin Shampine, Julia Kuhn, Kennedy Brisbon, Justin Powell and Gwyneth Love. Rochester students included Andrew Picklo, Arav Agarwal, Vincent Huang, Evangeline Bojaj, Aaron Picklo, Neil Kim and Jack Ginste.
A group of Oxford Elementary and Rochester students flexed their mental muscles to bring home an impressive 15 trophies from a statewide academic games competition.

"They did very well for a first-year team," said Connie Ginste, a retired Detroit teacher who coached the students. "I can't say we were one of the highest, but we were definitely up there as far as the number of trophies we got."

Twelve third and fourth-graders from OES, along with seven Rochester students and one from Novi, competed together in the 37th annual Michigan League of Academic Games (MLAG) Super Tournament held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids March 9-11.

Divided into four teams of five students each, each team played six different academic games (a total of 24 events) involving math, language arts, social studies and logic.

"Six games is a lot. Most schools don't compete in that many games," Ginste noted. "To learn that many games in their first year, they did extremely well."

Oxford and Rochester students together walked away with 4 first place trophies, 5 second places, 2 third place finishes and 4 honorable mentions.

Three out of Oxford/Rochester's four teams made it to multiple playoffs for various games. Together, they competed in a combined nine playoffs. "They get to a playoff if they end up first in their division or if they draw a wild card spot," Ginste explained.

Taking home 15 trophies was quite an impressive feat considering the Oxford/Rochester team was comprised of mostly rookie competitors. "A lot of teams will go (there) with more experience than we had and not win anything," Ginste said.

It's also worth noting that the Oxford/Rochester squad of 20 competitors was relatively small compared to other schools. "Some schools come with 40 or 50 players," Ginste said.

But it wasn't just their mental skills and victories that caused their fellow competitors to take notice of them. "The team got several compliments for their behavior (and) their attitude in the games," Ginste noted.

Ginste had nothing but words of praise and admiration for her academic competitors.

"They worked very hard throughout the season and attended a lot of practices," she said. "They were learning skills that were above their grade level. It did a lot for their self-esteem and confidence."

Prior to the state competition, the Oxford/Rochester squad competed in six tournaments during the regular season. OES hosted one of the tournaments back in December.

The Oxford/Rochester squad ended up placing third (out of 10 schools) in their Region B division.