AGazine, July 2020

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

News and Notes Outstanding Seniors Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


News and Notes

The 56th year of Academic Games will begin with the most uncertainty of any year before it ever. We aren’t even sure about when schools will open for 2020-21 and in what format. So it’s difficult to plan an Academic Games calendar.

Some leagues consist entirely of schools within one public school district. Other leagues cut across counties and include private schools. Leagues within a single district must follow just one set of safety guidelines. But other leagues are faced with differing requirements for their various schools, including the schools that host the competitions. A further complication is that different states will be at different levels of openness, as they are already. Some leagues may not be able to start competitions until after the turn of the new calendar year.

Several leagues did a "dry run" for all of us by holding virtual reading games tournaments in February and March before the widespread lock-downs took effect. We’re interested in how those tournaments went. Did you use Zoom or another online service? In particular, how was the integrity of the competition maintained with students from the same school checking and scoring each other or players participating individually from home.

Several leagues have decided to conduct their reading games tournaments virtually during the first semester when large gatherings are likely to be prohibited.

It’s also possible that Elementary/Middle rounds must be separated with the two divisions playing at the same time in two locations or on different days to stay within social distancing limits. In the latter case, two sets of questions are needed.

AGLOA is changing its deadlines for reading games questions to accommodate schedule revisions for 2020-21.

For a number of years, AGLOA has supplied a second set of local questions for each reading game to leagues that held their Elementary and Middle competitions on different dates or needed a second set for a regional tournament. The second sets have never been needed before late February. But this year, AGLOA will prepare two sets of Elementary/Middle questions by these deadlines:

  • Propaganda: Two sets of Elementary/Middle examples and one set for Junior/Senior by September 15
  • Presidents: Two sets of Elementary/Middle questions and one set for Junior/Senior by October 15
  • Theme/Current Events: Two sets of Elementary/Middle questions and one set of Junior/Senior by November 1

If any league needs two sets of Junior/Senior questions because the two divisions must be separated, inform us immediately at:


Outstanding Seniors: Robert Minger & Cy Salvant

Robert Minger of Weir High School was nominated for a 2020 AGLOA Outstanding Senior Award by his coach for eight years, Betty Smith, from Hancock County, West Virginia. Here are excerpts from his nomination.

Robbie played all six games for eight years and attended six national tournaments. He won numerous awards in reading games and qualified in Presidents and Theme in every division since fifth grade—generally in first place. He qualified in Propaganda and Current Events also. In the cube games, as he got older and was not so frustrated because of his autism, he began to qualify in On-Sets and LinguiSHTIK and occasionally in Equations. His senior year, Robbie qualified in every game at the Regional level.

As one of my two senior players, Robbie ensures that all new players get the advantage of his knowledge and readily volunteers to tutor them or play against them while helping them with strategies in the games. […] Here are testimonials from those younger players.

Callie: "I wanted to say ever since I met Robbie last year he has always been very kind and understanding. If I ever didn’t know how to do something he would take time to explain it to me and help me with it until I understood."

Ryan: "I have known him for a few years now, and at first I didn’t really talk to him, but over time he started talking to me more. He also was very polite to everyone and is one of the smartest people I know."

Leanna: “He’s always really helpful teaching new players and he’s willing to answer any question they have for him.”

Robbie also helped research Presidents, Theme, and Current Events material ever since his fifth grade year. I will miss his knowledge and zeal for those three games. However, even more I will miss his quirky sense of humor and his commitment to fair play.

Participating in Academic Games helped him develop beyond what his autism might have otherwise limited him. Robbie not only excelled at the reading games, but he also conquered a condition that could have debilitated him.

Cy Salvant participated in the New Orleans Academic Games League for the NOLA Homeschoolers team since Elementary Division. Cy was an outstanding player in all the games and was the coach of the other NOLA HomeSchoolers who played Academic Games. His nomination was written by Jayalakshmi Sridhar.

I have known Cy Salvant for the past four years as the coach of the Academic Games team from the Edward Hynes Charter School, New Orleans, Louisiana. I am the coordinator/facilitator for the Hynes Elementary and Middle Division Academic Games program. Cy is a homeschooler who has been volunteering to coach our Academic Games teams.

The Academic Games competitions played in New Orleans comprises Propaganda, Equations, Presidents, and On-Sets. Cy has been coaching the teams in all of these games. Under his coaching, at least two of the players have proceeded to Nationals every year.

My daughter is one of the Hynes students he coached. I witnessed Cy coaching the school children in all aspects of the games. His ability to explain things in simple terms to the Elementary kids is remarkable. He is patient and deals with numerous questions with equanimity. The coaching for Academic Games took place as an after-school activity at the same time. Cy was able to adapt his coaching to each of those players with their division specific needs which is an impressive feat to accomplish. He also took the initiative in helping the students in aspects of seating and judging the games in the regional meetings for Elementary and Middle Divisions.

Cy competed in the Academic Games competitions in the Senior Division. I witnessed Cy as one of the top students in this category, and he won several awards for his accomplishments. Being a homeschooler, he learned to coach his siblings in academics and other activities. This experience made him an emotionally strong person with a friendly and caring nature.

Being a witness of his accomplishments as a coach of the Hynes Academic Games teams, I have great pleasure in strongly recommending Cy Salvant for the AGLOA Outstanding Senior Award. His passion for Academic Games is very evident in all of the efforts that he has taken to propagate these games in our local community.


Down Memory Lane: The Breakthrough

This is an excerpt from an article in I Think, Therefore … I Play: Celebrating 50 Years of Academic Games by Stu White.

Teaching at Brooks Middle School in Detroit, Sallie Johnson reluctantly participated in a summer workshop about gaming. Dr. Layman Allen had taught EQUATIONS to Dr. Fred Schippert, the Middle School Math Supervisor in Detroit and convinced him that the game would raise student achievement in math. So with the help of an ESA summer workshop in EQUATIONS for Middle School teachers. Sallie did not bring a positive attitude toward games in the classroom.

"Games? In my mind, games meant play. Our kids don’t have time to play EQUATIONS. ‘Academic’ and ‘games’ didn’t mix with me."

She introduced Equations in her classroom that year but didn’t start bringing students to the Saturday tournaments of the Michigan League of Academic Games until the following year.

A breakthrough occurred when the team from Murray Wright High School in Detroit achieved success at the 1978 national tournament. Charles Lasley won the championship in WFF’N Proof, Equations, and On-Sets.

Sallie recalls, "The first year they went to the national tournament, they didn’t do well. They didn’t know what to expect. They were blown away. Fred and Layman wouldn’t let them quit. They worked their butts off. They were so focused the next year. It’s not going to happen to us again. There was a big headline in the newspaper. ‘Ghetto kids from Detroit win national championship.’ The games had changed the children’s attitude toward learning. They would come to school so they could compete in these games. They became whole new people. Attendance improved, attitudes improved."

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