Antilles dominates at State MathCounts

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ST. CROIX - In a four-hour match of numbers, equations and formulas, Antilles School rose above the others, being named the top team and having the top four individuals coming from the school in the State MathCounts competition Wednesday at the Good Hope Country Day School pavilion.

Nineteen middle and junior high school students, 10 from the St. Thomas-St. John District and 9 from the St. Croix District, worked out problems individually before the team round pitted the Antilles School team from St. Thomas against the Good Hope Country Day School from St. Croix.

The St. Thomas team comprised Maggie James, Manav Thadani, Mansi Totwani and Robert Hunter and was coached by Michele Humphries, who had a hard time containing her excitement throughout the competition and especially during the oral round, as her students belted out correct answers to the questions.

There are usually 10 students also hailing from St. Croix, but this year, student Rose Kleeger was scheduled to be off-island and was replaced on the Good Hope Country Day team with Angelo Capriola, who was also ranked in the top 8 and joined Julian Bishop, Caroline Flavia and Jared Hode on the team coached by Cesar Guerra.

The first round, the Sprint Round, featured 30 problems distributed to individual competitors. The 40-minute round tested accuracy, and calculators were not permitted.

The second individual round, the Target Round, included eight multiple-step problems, given in four pairs, that require mathematical reasoning and problem-solving skills. Competitors had six minutes to solve each pair of problems, and calculators were permitted.

The Team Round lasted 20 minutes and consisted of 10 problems that team members worked on together. During that round, the students were seen working quietly for a while, then huddling to compare answers and decide on which answers were right and would be the answer recorded on the captain's sheet for grading.

The scores from the first two individual rounds determine students' individual standings, and the top 10 competed in the Countdown Round, during which they had 45 seconds to come up with the correct answer without using a calculator in elimination rounds.

In the national competition, the team coach for the first place team becomes the Virgin Islands team coach. This year, as it was last year, Humphries will have the privilege of continuing to work with her own students who make up the territory's team.

"It's difficult when you have some of your students and some students from other schools, but the top four were from Antilles, so we will just keep doing what we were doing and get ready for the national competition," she said.

This will be the eighth time Antilles coach Humphries will be leading students to compete in the national competition, which will take place May 9 in Orlando, Fla. Humphries has coached the team at Antilles for the last 15 years and had coached for the competition at a public school in Maryland before moving to the territory.

Mansi Totwani, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Antilles School was ranked as the top student from the individual round.

After the competition, she said she felt amazing because her hard work had paid off. She thanked God for her ability to comprehend and retain the principles of math and said her family and teammates had been all very supportive.

"We practice all the time, every day at lunch time and even on Saturdays to make sure we are at our best," Mansi said. "We help each other in our weakness and have all done well."

Mansi said its mostly fun for her and her teammates and not much pressure because math is what they all love and enjoy.

Humphries said she has always been excited about math and really gets into it when she see her students beam with the same excitement. She said she keeps it interesting for them and has helped them with word problems, riddles, flash cards and other creative ways of learning and retaining math.

Karissa Poszywak, STEM director for the V.I. Education Department, congratulated all of the students and encouraged them to continue to develop their mathematical skills. She said when she speaks with employers in the computer and engineering industries, they beg her to encourage the students to continue pursuing math and take as many math courses as possible.

"Those industries will need you and if you keep on this path, you will be ready," she said.

- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email A rectangular tile measures 3 inches by 4 inches. What is the fewest number of these tiles that are needed to completely cover a rectangular region that is 2 feet by 5 feet? (Answer: 120 tiles)

2. How many combinations of pennies, nickels and/or dimes are there with a total value of 25 cents? (Answer: 12 combinations)

3. What is the greatest whole number that must be a factor of the sum of any four consecutive positive odd numbers? (Answer: 8)

4. A four-digit perfect square integer is created by placing two positive two-digit perfect square integers next to each other. What is the four-digit square integer? (Answer: 1,681)

5. When Bob exercises, he does jumping jacks for 5 minutes and then walks the track at 4 minutes per lap. If he exercised for 73 minutes on Monday, how many laps did he walk? (Answer: 17 laps)

6. What number is 17 less than its negative? Express your answer as a decimal to the nearest tenth. (Answer: -8.5)

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