In a solitary year of remote practices and meets, the nine-member BRHS mathematics team stuck together and finished on top in the Small School Division of the Central Maine Math League for the 2020-2021 season. It was the team’s first championship season since 2009, although the team has finished in the top three positions each of the 11 years in between.
The Seahawk team has been conducting practices since early September of 2020 and has participated in all five meets of the year, beginning in early October. Central Maine includes 23 high schools from Boothbay Harbor to Skowhegan and from Farmington to Waterville to Searsport to Camden to Rockland and Isleboro. Nine of these schools are in the small school division, according to school population.
Going into meet 4 of the 5 meet season, Boothbay Region was well behind last year’s small school winner, Carrabec High School. But the Seahawks had a very strong meet 4 to pull within 13 points of Carrabec, definitely within shooting range. And in an all-hands-on-deck effort, the Boothbay Region students prepared extensively for the final meet and managed to best Carrabec by 28 points, earning a 15-point final margin. The full season results were Boothbay 537, Carrabec 522, and Wiscasset, which has been very competitive in recent years, 374. The remaining small schools followed.
Since most schools were forced to conduct all meets remotely this season, the traditional team rounds, where all competitors work cooperatively, were suspended. Instead, all results were based on the sum of individual performances at the meets. Each set of questions was shown over Zoom, the time limits were strictly enforced, and each student showed his or her answers over Zoom to be graded.
Senior Graham Harris was Boothbay’s highest scorer for the year with 102 total points, followed by senior Nathan Chatterton with 94 points, junior Emme Harris with 88 points, senior Ryan Russell with 69 points, senior Glory Blethen with 59 points, junior Grace Campbell with 58 points, sophomore Gryffin Kristan with 42 points, junior Della Hahn (who returned to school after spending a semester at sea) with 32 points, and newcomer freshman Kate Campbell with 20 points. All nine competitors were essential. As coaches Peter and Nancy Gilchrist pointed out, had any one team member succumbed to “Zoom-fatigue” or otherwise lost interest, the team’s score would have fallen enough to drop them into second place, or worse.
The meets are administered statewide with the same questions by the Maine Association of Math Leagues. 98 high school teams competed this year In Maine and the top four schools not segregated by size were Scarborough, Falmouth, Maine School of Science and Mathematics, and Bangor. Boothbay was 39th among these 98 teams, one of its highest finishes in years. Teams are limited to 10 scoring participants, regardless of school size, and the larger schools have a considerable advantage over the smaller ones.
Questions used at the heavily timed meets are drawn from throughout the high school curriculum and range from computation questions to number theory to geometry to algebra to trigonometry to polynomials to logic to logarithms to statistics to the (long-time favorite with many generations of students) subject of factoring.
Answers required of the students are always of the fill-in type and never true-false or multiple choice. Preparation for the 25 individual subject areas is vital and taking the meet questions calmly, doing the requisite thinking, and being totally accurate is at a premium. No partial credit is offered, even when a student does 99% of the work correctly. Groans are often heard from students who tackled a difficult problem with aplomb and crystal-clear thinking, only to multiply 7 times 8 at the end and get something other than 56.
With the Mountain Valley meet called off this year and with the cancellation of the Maine State Math Meet at the Augusta Civic center (which involves stuffing 1100 students and proctors into one building), the Seahawks math team season ended with a decompression Genius Trophy meeting (won this year by Graham Harris) and the awards presentation on April 13 outside next to the Little League ballfield. Mathematics teacher Ben Powell and Principal Tricia Campbell accepted the 1st place trophy on behalf of the school and praised the team members. Ms. Campbell also presented each of the nine math team stalwarts with BRHS honors certificates. The coaches particularly wanted to commend the mathematics faculty of our local school system for their excellence, the school administrators for their support and encouragement, the parents for raising such a fine group of young people, the community for nurturing the educational achievement that has produced these young people, and especially the students themselves for buckling down and achieving at such a high level.