The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America
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News and Notes
Calendar: Academic Games Events
Outstanding Senior: Dominique Lousteau
Dominique “Chochy” Lousteau of Brother Martin High School in New Orleans won an Outstanding Senior award at the 2016 National Tournament in Atlanta. Chochy started Academic Games in the 5th grade and qualified for the national tournament every year through twelfth grade.
He won individual and team awards in all four games played in his league: Propaganda, Equations, Presidents, and On-Sets. At Nationals, he made a perfect score in Elementary Equations in 2010, finished fourth in Middle Equations the following year, and 3rd in On-Sets and Presidents in 8th grade.
In Junior Division, he was a member of national 3rd and 4th place Propaganda teams and a 2nd place Presidents team. He finished his career with a flourish. Locally, last year, he was a member of the Brother Martin team that swept all four games locally. He won the individual championship in Equations, Propaganda, and On-Sets, but “slumped” to 2nd in Presidents. He helped his team take 2nd in Sweepstakes in Atlanta.
His elementary school coach, Cindy Parche, wrote this about him as part of his Outstanding Senior nomination.
From the beginning, Dominique “Chochy” Lousteau was excited about Academic Games. He was a natural and took to the games like he had been playing all his life. He quickly learned the games and shared his knowledge and love of the games with his teammates. Chochy attended Nationals every year that he was a member of our St. Charles Borromeo Academic Games team.
Chochy left a big hole in our team when he left to go to Brother Martin. However, he was gone but not forgotten. I had him on speed dial! Anytime we had an issue that I could not resolve, Chochy was available to answer my questions, day or night. He was always patient and willing to help in any way that he could. I would invite him, and he would attend practice when he was available, particularly in the Middle Division with Restrictions. My students took notes when Chochy worked with them. His understanding of the game was unlimited.
This year Chochy surprised me and showed up at practice. I tested my top Elementary Division players to beat him at Equations. I told him not to go easy on them, and they rose to the occasion. One of the players, Allie Powell, said, “I tried everything I knew; I wasn’t giving up.” That’s motivation I cannot match. By the way, Chochy won that game, but he also took the time to explain to my players what went wrong. He was very encouraging! According to Allie, “Chochy motivated and inspired me to do my absolute best. He is an inspiration to me and the whole St. Charles Borromeo team.”
Chochy’s other love was the Drum Line at Brother Martin. As a musician, he made All-District and All-State. He also played in the Elite Independent Percussion group that earned back-to-back 3rd place national finishes and the Louisiana Stars Drum and Bugle Corps. He somehow found time to participate in Mu Alpha Theta, the National Honor Society, Excalibur National Honor Society, Student Ministers, Student Council, and Quiz Bowl.
Chochy now attends Louisiana-Lafayette where he is a proud member of the Ragin’ Cajuns “Pride of Acadiana” Marching Band.
Outstanding Educator: Carl Cushnie
Carl Cushnie played Academic Games for six years in Belle Glade, FL, then took a circuitous route to become a teacher and Academic Games coach.
His 7th-grade teacher at Lakeshore Middle School introduced her class to Equations and On-Sets. The team participated in the tournaments of the Palm Beach County League.
When he got to Glades Central High, Carl concentrated on being a trumpet player in the band. But he rejoined Academic Games in 10th grade and qualified for Nationals in Louisville (1978).
He recalls: We played a six-round season of each game. We played the first four rounds in Belle Glade, which is 40 miles inland from the other schools in the county. Then, the top scorers in our tournament joined the top scorers from the other division for the last two rounds.
His best game was Equations. His senior year, he tied for the county championship with another player from the western section of the county. He beat me to win the overall championship, but we both qualified for the Nationals team.
Equations introduced me to concepts that I hadn’t seen yet in math classes. That helped me in algebra because I was already exposed to it. I understood the overall framework of how it worked.
His worst game was LinguiSHTIK. I just didn’t like writing all those sentences.
After a brief flirtation with Chemical Engineering, Carl became a math major at the University of Florida. As he entered his senior year, he had no intention of becoming a teacher. In fact, he planned to take the Actuarial Exam and take a job with an insurance company. But the second semester of his senior year, a friend persuaded him to fill his electives slate with education courses.
One course required six weeks of volunteer activity at a local school. He was assigned to tutor a student in math. He didn’t care much for school. Most of the time, he just didn’t show up. When he did show up, he shared what he didn’t like about school. But he did appreciate me helping him with math. Toward the end, he was pretty consistent in coming to tutoring. As a result of volunteering at that school, I decided I would go ahead and give teaching a try. So I didn’t take the Actuarial Exam.
After graduation, Carl returned to Belle Glade. He went to his old high school and talked to the principal, who remembered him. She wanted to hire me, but no position was available. She said I could get a temporary certificate while I took the additional courses needed for certification. That allowed her to hire him as a permanent substitute for that year (1987).
When a teacher transferred to another school the next year, Carl took the vacant position and has taught at his alma mater ever since.
The school no longer had an Academic Games program when he returned as a teacher.
Carl got to know Nancy Kinard, a key leader in the Palm Beach Academic Games League, when he worked with her in planning the state mathematics teachers conference.
Eight years ago, a new principal took over and wanted the school to gain more exposure. So she asked him to start an Academic Games team. He enlisted the help of a social studies teacher, and the two have coached the team ever since.
At the end of that year, Nancy asked him to be a chaperone on the Nationals trip even though he didn’t have any players participating. He was asked to help with scoring. I’ve been locked in the scoring room with Ken Dowling ever since.
Starting as an Academic Games coach, he noticed how much the games had changed since he played. There were variations that weren’t around back then. That’s what made it so much more interesting. You can play a simple Equations game out of the box. But add variations to it, and the game takes on a life of its own.
With no middle school feeder program, he isn’t able to recruit players until their junior year when he and the other coach teach them. As a result, Glades Central has yet to have any players qualify for Nationals. Ironically, the team’s best game is LinguiSHTIK. Our best game is the one that doesn’t fit either of our areas of expertise. The team finished third in LinguiSHTIK.
Like any veteran coach, Carl has stories of students who blossomed as a result of Academic Games.
The spearhead of the team last year was Trenard Morgan. His scores weren’t always the best scores. But he enjoyed the competition and recruited other players for the team and never missed a round. He never made it to Nationals, but he was such an example to others. You don’t have to win to be the best. He’s the major reason I was able to have a team for every season last year for the first time. He was able to get the other players together. They outscored him, but he enjoyed their success. I recently found out that Trenard won a Gets Millennium Scholarship.
Trenard’s best friend on the team was Lauren Diaz, the school valedictorian. They started a school store to raise money for the Academic Games program. I took the team out to eat after every competition using money from the school store. At the end of the year, we have one big dinner at Outback Steak House. One girl had never been to a dine-in restaurant where someone waited on her.
For 2016-17, the school store has been renamed the Morgan-Diaz School Store.
Down Memory Lane
In 1971, the basic structure of the Academic Games Olympics changed with the addition of two new games, Strange Bedfellows and A Man Called Mr. President (usually called just Mr. President).
Strange Bedfellows (from the saying “Politics makes for strange bedfellows.”) was created by Bob Allen, the founder of the National Academic Games Project who also developed A Man Called Mr. President. The game required players to identify the author of a quotation or the political system the quotation referenced. Like Propaganda, the game was divided into sections that grouped writers and orators together (for example, politicians, philosophers).
Mr. President was the forerunner of today’s Presidents game. The main difference was that just one lengthy clue was read about the president instead of three clues worth 6, 4, and 2 points respectively.
The Mount Lebanon (PA) team of Dave Sze, Jeff Sell, Andy Zangwill, Chuck Osgood, and Jim Ferrell began their two-year domination of the Senior Division, and Alice Corbin of Allegheny Valley (PA) continued her fine performances with a Wff ‘N Proof title. Five students from Saugus CA captured the Elementary Sweepstakes to stop Allegheny Valley for a one-year period.