Elizabethton High School hosts Mathletics competition Friday

Published 9:36 am Monday, December 9, 2019

Math is either boring, brutally tough or reserved only for the nerds. These are some of the stereotypes that surround math-related coursework in most schools, and Elizabethton High School is no different. The teachers and seniors, however, decided it was time to change that.

Elizabethton High School students came together Friday morning to compete in the first Mathletics competition, a game where teaching is just as crucial as learning.

Math teacher Chad Salyer said he came up with the idea after hearing a suggestion from Alex Campbell.

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“He thought my [pre-Calculus] students could serve as math coaches,” Salyer said.

From there, the game was on. Instead of making the tutoring program the same as everything else, the program turned into a competition. Over the past five or six weeks, senior pre-Calculus students would tutor freshman Algebra 1 students, the latter of whom would take regular quizzes to see how they were growing. The scores on these quizzes would determine each group’s score.

The groups became so involved they developed team names and cheers, a connection Salyer said was crucial to the experience.

“We developed connections between seniors and freshmen,” he said.

Competitors gathered at the school Friday to hear the winners and compete in the last week of quizzes, this time done over Kahoot from their phones.

The event was like a mini pep rally. EHS alumnus Will Bowers skipped his history class at ETSU in order to be a hype man throughout the morning, and the Milligan Buffalo came to join Tuffy the Cyclone to cheer the students on. The school even purchased a Snapchat filter to use for photo shoots after the competition was over.

Senior Delanie Hyder said the whole experience was eye-opening.

“I talked to a lot of people I would not have otherwise,” Hyder said. “It was rewarding helping them learn.”

She said the teachers told her the freshmen’s score went up dramatically as a result of their coaching.

You can actually see them improving,” she said. “I never thought I would be able to help someone with math.”

Part of the hype’s purpose, she and Salyer said, was due to math’s negative stereotypes in school populations.

“This allowed them to understand you do not have to hate [math],” Salyer said.

Hyder said the program did wonders for the freshmen’s self-esteems.

“They did not believe in themselves at all,” she said. “Now they do. You just have to try.”

Winners of Friday’s competition won the chance to get a large lunch tray at Cookout, complete with the milkshakes the restaurant is known for. Other prizes included coupons to various restaurants and limited edition carrying bags.