Mississippi College

MC Welcomes 39th Science and Mathematics Tournament

February 8, 2013

Clinton High teacher Ann Kyzar always enjoys the short drive with a dozen of the brightest students on campus to put their skills to the test in the Mississippi Science and Mathematics Tournament.

The 39th annual competition at Mississippi College, her alma mater, proved challenging, but the Clinton team turned in another strong performance on Thursday. The CHS Arrows earned a second-place trophy as students zipped through 50-minute exams in biology, chemistry, computer science, math and physics.

“It was a great day,” Kyzar told a happy bunch of Clinton students milling outside the front of Nelson Hall. “These kids are very sharp.”

For 15 years, the math teacher has served as coordinator of the Clinton High group making the trip to the Mississippi College campus as students compete for scholarships and bragging rights. As an undergraduate, Kyzar remembers when the event got started in the 1970s.

It is the oldest such academic competition in the Magnolia State for high schoolers.

“The tournament gives students the opportunity to bring recognition and trophies to their schools comparable to those won by sports teams,” says retired MC Chemistry Department Chairman Jerry Cannon, one of the program’s longtime leaders.

Each year, faculty members like Leland W. Benton, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and math professor John Travis stay busy preparing for the event. Travis was also on hand as a parent, since his daughter, Sarah Grace, 16, is a junior on the Clinton High team. “It was interesting to me because I know a lot of the children growing up,” he said.

In the division with Clinton, Jackson Prep in Flowood captured first place and St. Andrews Episcopal School in Ridgeland ended the afternoon in third place.

During the two-day competition ending Friday, hundreds of students were hoping to win scholarships worth up to $2,000 annually at Mississippi College.

Other schools scoring at the very top in their divisions Thursday included the Mississippi School for Math and Science in Columbus, South Pontotoc High and Indianola Academy. Oak Grove High School and St. Stanislaus High School, Walnut High and Tishomingo High School in Iuka also turned in solid performances, among others.

“This is my favorite competition of the year,” says Julie Crawford, a biology and chemistry teacher at Our Lady Academy of Bay St. Louis. She’s been traveling to the event on the Clinton campus for nearly two decades. “It’s tough competition.” Our Lady Academy finished in third-place in their division Thursday afternoon.

Each year, about 1,000 students make the journey to Mississippi College to take part. A number of the students take advantage of the scholarships and enroll as MC undergraduates.

“What a great way to show off Mississippi College to prospective talented students,” Kyzar said.

Photo: CHS team and teachers at Mississippi College after the opening day of competition Thursday outside Nelson Hall.

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