The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America
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News and Notes
Calendar: Academic Games Events
Alumni Spotlight: Brandi Wieberg Cannizzaro
Brandi Wieberg won an Outstanding Senior Award at the 1994 AGLOA National Tournament while playing for Ben Franklin High School in New Orleans.
Brandi began playing Academic Games because of her mother, Diana Wieberg, who received an Outstanding Educator Award in 1991 while coaching Elementary Division teams in the New Orleans Academic Games League.
Brandi met her future husband, Dr. Pete Cannizzaro, when he played Academic Games at Jesuit High School in New Orleans. They opposed each other in Equations and On-Sets more than once.
Brandi is currently assistant principal at Lambert High School in Suwanee, (Forsyth County) Georgia, while Pete is an anesthesiologist in Atlanta. Recently, Brandi was tapped to be the principal for Forsyth Country’s planned college and career academy high school which is set to open in August 2018.
Diana retired from the New Orleans Public Schools when she moved to Georgia to be near her daughter and her family. She began teaching Academic Games in her elementary school in Forsyth County. With the help of Adrian Prather, a Michigan League of Academic Games alumnus working in Atlanta, Diana founded the Forsyth County League of Academic Games.
Coach Profile: Swami Jataja
Swami Jataja brought twelve Elementary and Middle Division players from his school in India to the 2016 AGLOA National Tournament in Atlanta. He sat for an interview during the tournament.
Toinu Reeves was his name when he played Academic Games at Bates Academy in Detroit from 1984-90 under Chris Holstein, whom Swami still calls “Mr. Holstein.”
Chris introduced young Reeves and some of his classmates to Equations while they were in 2nd grade. We went up to Mr. Holstein’s room once a month to start learning Equations. They joined the Bates team the following year.
Older players Rod Beard and Dorian Smith mentored the younger students. Thanks to their guidance, the Bates team won Equations at Nationals in sixth grade.
Toinu went to a private high school that didn’t have Academic Games. However, he never forgot the lessons that games like Equations, On-Sets, and WFF’N Proof taught him.
At Dartmouth College, he took a second-year advanced logic philosophy course.
I bought the textbook over the holiday break to see what the class was about. I thought, “This chapter is On-Sets. The next chapter is WFF’N Proof.” I finished the entire program over the holiday break and began to appreciate WFF a lot more. The professor was my mentor in the honors program. So I had to come to class just once a week to take the tests.
He obtained a Master’s in mathematics at Wayne State as a preparation for a Ph.D. in Economics.
All the math became very easy for me because I had done so many proofs in WFF. The class started with 30 students and ended with 12. You’d get three problems for homework that would last for two weeks. That’s where I really began to appreciate WFF. At a young age, you don’t know why you’re doing it, but if you decide to go into graduate school, the preparation is invaluable. I sat in my room and got goose bumps thinking about what a treasure was handed to me in 8th grade.
So how did he get reconnected to Academic Games?
One of my close friends and I wanted to set up an inner city school in Detroit that stressed mathematics, logic structure, and language arts. We wanted to have Academic Games as a central part of the curriculum. As we sought financing for the school, we began to realize that education was not so simple.
He’s taught the games in a regular classroom and also outside of school time.
I coordinated the math program for some time. I held an Equations tournament at the end of each week. After the first couple of years, people began to appreciate it and see how they can incorporate it into their classrooms. But we have a more extensive testing program than in the U.S. Even if I’m teaching someone something more enriching for his life, if students don’t perform on the examination, I’m impeding their progress going forward.
How did the trip to Nationals in Atlanta come about?
Back in 2008, I got in touch with Rod Beard about wanting to start Academic Games in India. I asked about having online competition with the Michigan League during their Saturday tournaments. Since our school year ends in March, we have April and May off. So we could come to Nationals some day without having to miss school. I spoke to the school administration, and they gave approval for it. But it took four or five years to finally happen because I was busy with other things. I left the school for a couple of years before going back.
Before he returned to India, he had to renew his visa in Nashville, near the headquarters of the Isha Institute of Inner-sciences in Tennessee, “a world-class yoga center featuring classical hatha yoga programs…”
But I lost my passport and had to stay longer than I planned. So I caught a bus to Knoxville, where the AGLOA National Tournament was being held. I was present the Sunday and Monday of the tournament. I left with the resolve to bring a team back to Nationals soon.
Last December, Swami sent a message to the parents of his players about coming to the U.S. during the holiday break.
I was afraid they’d think I’m crazy. But almost all said they want their children to be part of this. So I have twelve players here from grades 5, 7, and 8. The funding is primarily through the parents. However, a lot of other parents affiliated with the school gave us donations. I had to leave a couple of my best players behind because of lack of funding. I’m working with the administration at the school to see how we can go about funding the trip in the future.
We play LinguiSHTIK, Equations, On-Sets, and WFF’N Proof. I want to introduce Propaganda because I’m having a debate team. But I had my hands full this year with those four games.
We flew into Atlanta and went to our Foundation in Tennessee for three days, then on to Detroit. We visited Bates Academy. We hoped to play against the St. Lawrence team but a scheduling issue prevented it. I wanted to play someone before the tournament because our biggest drawback is that the players are not used to facing players who play aggressively and use different strategies.
Swami, we hope to see you and your students at the 2017 Nationals in West Virginia!
Down Memory Lane
The Academic Games National Tournament has been held in ten states. Identify those states.