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Tue, Nov. 12

La Senita math whizzes prevail

AARON ROYSTER/Miner<br>
La Senita Elementary student Ed Corbin (right) lifts up the problem solving plaque on Thursday while Kingman Unified School District Curriculum Director Mary Ann Smith (background) and teammates (from left) Samantha Hoover, Dakota Huff, Brenden Blanchard and Jared Quinonez look on. The team won the traveling plaque at the 2009 Mental Math Competition at Manzanita Elementary.

AARON ROYSTER/Miner<br> La Senita Elementary student Ed Corbin (right) lifts up the problem solving plaque on Thursday while Kingman Unified School District Curriculum Director Mary Ann Smith (background) and teammates (from left) Samantha Hoover, Dakota Huff, Brenden Blanchard and Jared Quinonez look on. The team won the traveling plaque at the 2009 Mental Math Competition at Manzanita Elementary.

KINGMAN - Two traveling titles equals one mathematically skilled elementary school.

La Senita earned the multiplication bee trophy and the problem-solving plaque at the 2009 Mental Math Competition on Thursday at Manzanita Elementary.

Third-grader Justin Smith took first place at the multiplication bee, while the team of Brenden Blanchard, Ed Corbin, Samantha Hoover, Dakota Huff and Jared Quinonez won the problem-solving competition. Fifth-grader Elmer Correa placed first in the individual Mental Math Competition.

The Mental Math Competition has been held within the Kingman Unified School District for approximately 18 years, Gail Arnold said. She taught for the district at the origin of the competition. Arnold volunteered to help organize and run this year's competition, even though she retired from the district last year.

"We feel like the competition within the schools gets the student excited about math," Arnold said.

From first through fifth, selected students in each grade level complete mental math problems. Wesley Belt from Cerbat Elementary took the first-grade competition, while Hualapai Elementary student Emily Gringorten won second grade. Hualapai found additional success when third-grader Cody Carman and fourth-grader Mina Guirguis placed first in their respective grade levels.

"There was a variety of kids from all over the district that won this year," said Mary Ann Smith, KUSD curriculum director.

Level playing field

Smith is responsible for the competition. Planning began in December on the district level with schools preparing students beginning in January.

"Everyone is on the same playing field," Taylor said.

Each school must make their selections by the end of March.

"They have to do a lot of work to get to this point," Arnold said.

Individual third-graders also compete in the multiplication challenge. With a team of five students, fourth- and fifth-graders tackle the problem solving competition.

"I think that it is the most exciting to see these kids solve a problem in a way that we never would of thought of," said Scott Taylor, fifth-grade teacher at Manzanita.

The teams have three to eight minutes to solve each problem, with more time given based on the difficulty of the question.

"A lot of the eight-minute questions wouldn't be easy for adults to solve," Taylor said.

Teachers and volunteers grade the submissions on the spot and the winners are announced following a lunch at the end of the competition.

"It's been a Kingman Unified tradition," Taylor said. "It's evolved over the years."

Initially including sixth-graders, the competition eliminated that grade level when sixth grade was moved to the middle schools in the district. The administering of the questions has also switched from verbal to written and then back to verbal based on state and national testing techniques.

"This is just one of the fun things we get to do," Taylor said. "Students love it. Teachers love it. And, it supports our curriculum."

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