AGazine, July 2015

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

News & Notes Outstanding Educator Outstanding Senior Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


News and Notes


Nancy Kinard

Due to serious health issues, Nancy Kinard, AGLOA Executive Board member, will be on a leave of absence from the Board until January 1, 2016. We wish her the best. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family.

AGLOA Executive Board Meeting

The AGLOA Board will hold its annual summer meeting July 30-August 2 in Atlanta at the site of the 2016 National Tournament.

  • Several members of the Tournament Council will join the board for the meeting.
  • Agenda items include the following:
    Meet with Marriott Marquis personnel to review plans for the 2016 tournament;
    Replace Stuart White, who has retired from the Board;
    Review of the financial report for 2014-15 and setting the budget for 2015-16;
    Take advantage of the 50th Anniversary celebration to increase alumni involvement in AGLOA.

Equations in the Philippines

AGLOA President, Brother Neal Golden, spent three weeks in the Philippines (June 14-July 4) at Cor Jesu College in Digos City on the island of Mindanao.

The college includes kindergarten through graduate school on one campus.

In addition to giving lectures on the Mathematics Curriculum and the Impact of Technology on Education, Brother Neal taught Equations to students in grades 7 through 9. The game again demonstrated its universal appeal.

“I have learned to solve equations really fast. I love math even more than ever,” said Louis Raphael Q. Lagare, a Grade 7 student. “I learned to deal with time pressure and to solve faster,” added Alyssa Curazo, Grade 9.


The top six students (#1-#6, left to right) in the three-week round robin received certificates as well as other (more edible) rewards.

EQinPhilippines-1 EQinPhilippines-2


Outstanding Educator: Keith Richards

Keith Richards never had the pleasure of playing Academic Games, but he has certainly enjoyed coaching the games. Keith began coaching eight years ago in the Jackson School District in Michigan. Under his tutelage, Jackson teams have won three national titles and twelve Michigan League of Academic Games (MLAG) state championships in On-Sets, Equations, and Propaganda.

Keith has served MLAG as a steering committee member, region director, game coordinator at the state tournament, and has been one of Michigan’s representatives on the AGLOA Tournament Council for the last two years.

Keith’s nominator, Eric Nelson, wrote this.

When I first met Keith Richards, the thing I was struck by, other than the fact that his entire wardrobe seemed to be composed of Michigan State fan wear, was how insatiable his thirst for Academic Games knowledge was. He had been substitute teaching in Jackson and had been asked to get involved in coaching an existing AG team. He was determined that he would learn as much as he could about Equations so that he could beat his new players.

In the eight or so years since then, he’s never stopped learning. From Basic Equations to Adventurous Equations to On-Sets, to Presidents to Propaganda to LinguiSHTIK, he has never stopped looking for new ways to challenge his students, never stopped striving to become a better coach. I remember a few years back we had a league rules meeting in Detroit (about a two-hour drive for him). At the meeting, we were lucky enough to have Layman Allen, the author of Equations, at the rules meeting. I was one of the last people to leave the meeting, but Keith and Layman were still there talking. As I got home to Ann Arbor about an hour later, my phone rang. It was Keith. He was just leaving the meeting, having talked to Layman the entire time about the educational underpinnings of Equations.

Under his leadership, the Jackson program has grown from a team playing just a few basic games to one of the finest adventurous programs in the state [of Michigan], one that always boasts one of the top teams at every age level. He has coached at all four age levels, often at the same time. His practice schedule during the school year is often very ambitious. I remember calling him one snow day last winter to inform him that a Saturday tournament the next day was going to be cancelled. He told me that he saw snow days as an opportunity to practice more. He would invite all his students to an all-day practice at a local pizza place. Just because they had a day off from school didn’t mean they needed a day off from AG.

This year, Keith, along with the assistance of one of his middle school students, helped a team in a new community near Jackson start an Academic Games program. One of his elementary teams needed an extra player for the State Tournament this year. They got an extra player from Northville. To help prepare that student for the tournament, he made several trips (about an hour and a half round trip) to Northville to practice with that student.

There aren’t many coaches I know who spend as much time practicing, learning, or striving to make his students’ experience in Academic Games more fulfilling.

Keith Richards (L) with Eric Nelson at 2015 Nationals in Orlando

Keith Richards (L) with Eric Nelson at the 2015 AGLOA Nationals in Orlando


Outstanding Senior: Claire Fishman

Claire Fishman crafted a marvelous Academic Games career for six years, concluding at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Some years, Claire competed in all seven games played at Nationals. She won national individual titles in three different games, LinguiSHTIK, Presidents, and World Events. She was a member of an incredible 17 national championship teams, including five straight sweepstakes winners.

Here’s a testimonial to Claire from Alex Baker and Eric Nelson that goes beyond just listing her awards.

Claire first started playing Academic Games as a seventh grader at Clague Middle School. As a new seventh grader, she was at an immediate disadvantage because most of her teammates had played AG as sixth graders and, while they could concentrate on the new Middle [Division] variations, she was learning all the games from scratch. Despite some setbacks and some discouraging tournaments, she stuck with it and eventually found by the end of the year, that she had a real aptitude for the games, especially Presidents and Propaganda. By the end of the year, she finished in the middle of the pack in the division, just missing out on qualifying for the national tournament by a couple of spots.

In eighth grade, she was voted a captain by her teammates, despite having less experience than all the other eighth graders on the team. Despite the fact that she was still learning many of the rules and variations herself, she became an excellent captain, usually spending most of her practice time teaching younger kids, often volunteering to work with some students that the other captains wouldn’t or couldn’t work with. By the end of the year, she had made the top team going to Nationals, which ended up winning the sweepstakes national title, and she finished third overall as an individual.

As a ninth grader, she continued to come to Clague practices to help out with the team, being especially useful for Presidents and Propaganda. At Nationals, she was again part of the top team in the country, and she completed perhaps the most impressive individual tournament in Academic Games history, winning four individual national titles (Ling, Pres, World Events, and Sweepstakes) and finished tied for third in On-Sets, finishing with the highest individual sweeps score since they started keeping track 25 years ago.

In her tenth grade year, she took new steps to increase her leadership in Academic Games. She registered Academic Games as a club at Huron High School (she was dual enrolled at Huron and Community), reserved a room two afternoons a week, and publicized practices by setting up a display at registration in the fall. While the team has mainly met with the high school kids on Monday evenings and Friday evenings, she has been holding regular practices for three years. At one point, she had almost a dozen new students sign up to learn how to play. There were several kids who would not have attended the state tournament that year if she hadn’t introduced them to Academic Games. Despite this extra time commitment, she continued to come to Clague practices to help the younger kids at Friday after school practices, sometimes coming to two practices a day, the Clague practice from 3-5 p.m., and the high school practice in the evening.

She created a website specifically for the new students to learn from and created a video tutorial on how to play Equations (with a little assist from the family kitten), that was picked up by other AG coaches, who didn’t realize that the video was student-created. She has constantly asked us for worksheets, strategies, and materials that we can send her so that she can forward them to the students who come to her AG class but are unable to make it to our practices outside of school.

Like many players, Claire is exceedingly bright. But she also displays a great capacity for teaching and helping her peers learn. It is not a stretch to say that there are a number of players in Ann Arbor that would not have been introduced to Academic Games if it were not for the dedication that Claire showed in setting up practices, or that there are a multitude that have benefited from the patience and care she has shown in teaching and guiding them through AG, throughout her high school career.


Claire Fishman with her presenter Eric Nelson at the 2015 AGLOA Nationals in Orlando


Down Memory Lane

I Think, Therefore … I Play: Celebrating 50 Years of Academic Games, prepared by Stu White for the 2015 National Tournament in Orlando, is a treasure trove of memories. Here is one of the many stories in this magnificent publication. The passage below continues the story begun in last month’s AGazine.

Layman Allen moved to the University of Michigan shortly after the game of WFF’N Proof was published. While teaching at the Law School in Ann Arbor, he was approached by others to expand his logic game to accommodate mathematical practices and skills normally taught in school curricula. With the help of Dr. Joan Ross, Layman created a Resource Allocation Game he called EQUATIONS – The Game of Creative Mathematics.

Layman’s brother Bob became a teacher in Burbank, California. Using EQUATIONS in his math classroom, he became the first of thousands of future math teachers to run a tournament. His friendships with the entertainment community in southern California would become helpful in the brand new world of Academic Games.

Dr. Joan Ross

Dr. Joan Ross

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