Spelling champ Thadani leads Antilles team at MathCounts
Published: March 15, 2013
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ST. THOMAS - Manav Thadani was on his knees, hands raised in prayer over a desk, just before the names of the eighth- through fifth-place finishers in the territorial MathCounts competition were read aloud Thursday.
He then raised his hands up and chanted under his breath, "Dream team! Dream team! Dream team!" as it became apparent that he and three other students from Antilles school would be the top four finishers and form the team that will represent the Virgin Islands in the May 10 national competition in Washington, D.C.
The Territorial MathCounts competition lasted three hours in the University of the Virgin Islands ACC building conference room.
Twenty middle and junior high students, 10 from the St. Thomas-St. John District and 10 from the St. Croix District, worked out 38 problems individually before the team round pitted four students from Antilles School on St. Thomas against four students from St. Croix's Elena Christian Junior High School.
During a "Countdown Round," which does not factor into final results, the top eight scorers squared off in a timed, no calculator allowed, round of problem solving where the problems and answers were read aloud.
Ludence Romney, the district mathematics coordinator for the St. Thomas-St. John district, said afterward that, though he would not reveal the scores, the two schools were "pretty close."
Elena Christian's coach, Vicmund Regachuelo, said that because the school beat Country Day, a private school, in the district competition, students had been more inspired to join the MathCounts team for next year.
"I have had a lot more seventh-graders come to me and ask to be on the team next year," Regachuelo said. "It has really inspired the whole school."
For Manav, a seventh-grader, this has been a week of dreams coming true.
In addition to placing first in the MathCounts competition and winning the unofficial Countdown Round, he won the Territorial Spelling Bee on Tuesday.
Manav said he split his time equally between studying for the spelling bee and MathCounts, often staying up until midnight to get it all in.
"It wasn't very easy, if you go on a low amount of sleep, but I dealt with it," he said. "I think I might have set a record. I feel very important right now."
His mother, Asha Thadani, said 12-year-old Manav has understood from an early age that "if you work hard, God always blesses you."
In the national competition, the team coach for the first place team becomes the Virgin Islands team coach.
This will be the seventh time Antilles coach Michele Garcia has led students to Washington, D.C.
Garcia said that competition at the national level was a lot steeper. Her team put in four hours every Saturday in addition to after-school practice sessions, she said.
"We have spent an ungodly amount of hours at the school," she said. "Whenever we have a free moment, we are doing math. We are constantly texting, sending pictures back and forth, giving out problems on our phones. They will text me for answers, and I reply even if it's late at night."
The secret to the Antilles students' mathematical aptitude is a simple one, Garcia said: fun.
"Our only strategy is that we're going to do math, and we're going to have fun doing it," she said. "We don't put pressure on the kids because it's all about making math fun. That's what the goal of the MathCounts competition is, too. We have pool parties and beach parties for them just like the athletic teams do."
The district and territorial competitions were sponsored by the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II and the V.I. Education Department.
- Contact Amanda Norris at 714-9104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Manav Thadani, seventh grade, Antilles School, St. Thomas
2. Nicholas Midler, eighth grade, Antilles School
3. Pooja Chainani, eighth grade, Antilles School
4. Simran Mirchandani, eighth grade, Antilles School
5. Ameera Mustafa, eighth grade, Elena Christian Junior High School, St. Croix
6. Kalahari Bryan, eighth grade, Country Day School, St. Croix
7. Jonathan Qualls, eighth grade, Antilles School
8. Habeeba O'Neill, eighth grade, Elena Christian Junior High School
Problem 1: 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?
Problem 2: How many combinations of pennies, nickels and/or dimes are there with a total value of 25 cents?
Problem 3: 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?