AGazine, October 2014

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

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


News and Notes

Events across the AGLOA leagues during the next month:

18 Michigan League of Academic Games (MLAG) Regional Tournaments
23 Western Pennsylvania Academic Games League Presidents Tournament
8 New Orleans Academic Games League (NOAGL) Inter-school Equations practice
11 NOAGL Jr/Sr Equations, Round 1
12 Beaver County Academic Games League Equations Tournament
NOAGL Elem/Mid Equations, Round 1
15 MLAG Regional Tournaments

To see all of our of upcoming events, visit our Calendar page. If your league’s events are not listed, please send us your schedule.


Outstanding Senior: Andrew Gitlin

2014 Nationals Outstanding Sr - Andrew GitlinAndrew Gitlin, from Greenhills High School in Ann Arbor MI, played Academic Games for eight years, including seven trips to the national tournament. He won 22 individual national awards, including five Top Ten Sweepstakes finishes. But in addition to being a leader among Ann Arbor’s team, he took his participation to a new level by starting his own Academic Games team at Greenhills Middle School.

His coach, Alex Baker, included these comments in his nomination for Andrew, who is also a National Merit Scholarship recipient.

Is it a coincidence that Andrew Gitlin’s initials are AG? Perhaps yes, but the evidence belies this fact. Over the past few years, AG has been one of the most dominant AG players in AGLOA. Like any Outstanding Senior, though, it’s what he has done off the skinny tables that matters.

Andrew began his Academic Games career in 5th grade, but when he entered 6th grade his AG career was in jeopardy. The middle and high school he has attended, Greenhills, didn’t have an Academic Games program, a situation he would later work to remedy. This is when his interest in AG started to distinguish him from other students, with him continuing in the program despite the increased logistical strain.

I first met Andrew at the 2010 Cincinnati Nationals, in what would be a very stressful situation for any student. After the regular rounds ended, he was up 0.5 points over his next closest competitor for the individual Sweepstakes title. It all came down to one final playoff round in Equations to determine who would get the extra point and win it all. Most 8th grade students who lose in a situation like this would at least cry and possibly quit. Andrew ended up losing the game and the title but congratulated his opponent with class and kept his composure, displaying remarkable maturity for a 14 year old. To this day, Andrew remains a guy who you probably wouldn’t want to play in a match, but still can’t really root against, and in that respect exemplifies the reputation that as a program we strive to have.

As Andrew moved into high school, he started to do other activities like basketball and cross country, but he has always found time for AG. Although Andrew has always been a leader among his team, this is the year he has really stepped up his leadership by sharing Academic Games with new players. He started an Academic Games Club at Greenhills School all by himself and has a regular group of people who have joined and enjoy learning the games. He wrote a proposal to the school principal, found a faculty advisor, and publicized the club on his own. Although the club was small, the impact he had on the students he introduced to AG was significant. A parent of two of his students, who also happens to teach at the school, said this:

“Andrew has made a great impact on my twin sixth-grade sons Alan and Stuart. When Andrew offered to supervise a middle school Academic Games group at lunch time, they immediately jumped at the opportunity, and it is one of the lunch activities they never want to miss. They absolutely adore ‘Gittles,’ as they call him, and they treat assignments from him as seriously as those from teachers – perhaps even more so on occasion! Alan declares that Andrew is ‘pretty much the smartest student at Greenhills’ and clearly sees him as a role model for how to be a good student.”

“From my perspective, I see Andrew as a truly caring and generous individual. I have seen many a smart student over my years of teaching, but few are as humble and genuinely compassionate as Andrew. A senior involved in numerous activities and school groups, he still finds the time to dedicate a lunch each week to working with younger students on developing their intellect in fun ways. This is a joy to behold, and I hope my children turn out so well.”


Outstanding Educator: Alvercheal McConnell

2014 Nationals Outstanding Ed - Alvercheal McConnellAlvercheal McConnell of the Plymouth (MI) Educational Center has been involved in Academic Games for 20 years and has started a program at every school she has worked for, even when she was assistant principal or interim principal. Her nominator, Sebastian Spillman, wrote this about her.

She has put in an enormous amount of hours as a coach. She is dedicated to the survival of this league (MLAG) by any means necessary. I know of over 150 local awards (including over ten state championships) her teams and players have won.

Ms. McConnell is extremely passionate about Academic Games. I have watched her go back and forth with members intensely, which was my very first encounter with her. We were in a local Saturday tournament when I, a new coach, challenged her on the rule concerning “base.” We went back and forth for over an hour, and I learned then she was serious about the rules, the way she was taught and the way she teaches her students as well. As Pam Champagne summed it up when she won the Christopher Holstein Lifetime Achievement Service Award, she is like a bear to her baby cubs – very protective, but also dedicated to the welfare of all students in the league.

If there is anyone who deserves this honor, I feel it is Alvercheal McConnell. She is under appreciated and often misunderstood, but she is devoted to this program. She has gone above and beyond to give her players a fair opportunity to succeed and has challenged some of the greatest teams Academic Games has seen.


Down Memory Lane

The minutes of the Math Meeting at the 1987 National Tournament in Rock Eagle, GA included the following.

An agreement was reached concerning ambiguous Solutions that was implemented immediately for the remaining rounds of On-Sets and Equations. This agreement has two parts:

  • The writer of a Solution has the burden of making sure the Solution is not ambiguous in any way. Therefore, the writer must indicate what a wild cube stands for (if representing a symbol other than itself), which interpretation of AB+ is intended if such an expression is used in the Solution, what colors, if any, are on the blank card if it is wild, and so on.
  • The Solution-checker has the burden of determining whether the Solution equals an interpretation of the Goal. The Solution-writer does not have to write nor state orally which interpretation of the Goal the Solution equals (the only exception being certain cases when Add to Goal is in force).

This agreement will be implementing in the 1987-88 Tournament Rules.

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