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Penny Sikes Math Tournament Marks 35 Years
Posted 3/21/17

Fifth & sixth graders from local public, private

& charter schools compete 


Teams gathered in a gym on a Saturday morning in March usually means basketball, but in Bulloch County, it’s an annual mathematics showdown, the Penny Sikes Math Tournament. Celebrating its 35th year, this year’s tournament attracted more than 160 fifth and sixth-grade mathletes from 16 local public, private and charter elementary and middle schools who competed in individual and ciphering rounds. The event is organized and hosted annually by the Southeast Bulloch High School (SEBHS) Math Department. 


Julia P. Bryant Elementary and Southeast Bulloch Middle School took the Top Overall Fifth Grade and Sixth Grade Team awards after three hours of individual and team competitions. Other Overall Team placements for fifth grade were Sallie Zetterower Elementary, 2nd Place and Brooklet Elementary, 3rd Place. For sixth grade, Langston Chapel Middle was 2nd Place and Bulloch Academy was 3rd Place.


The tournament’s namesake was on hand, and SEBHS Math Teacher Pat Collins introduced her during the awards ceremony. Collins shared that he served as a student teacher in Sikes’ classroom in the spring of 1990. 


“I want to thank the parents who support these children, and I want to thank the children for being brave enough to be on a team, try something different, and not be afraid to be good at it,” Sikes said. Sikes is a former math teacher and administrator, who retired from Bulloch County Schools in 2003. She began the tournament in 1983, to provide a competitive outlet for math students and as a recruitment tool for math teams. “We started the tournament with fundraising money,” Sikes said. “At the time there were very few math competitions, and we had to go to Armstrong in Savannah if we wanted to compete.” 


Bulloch County now boasts three local tournaments: the Georgia Southern Math Tournament in February, the Penny Sikes Math Tournament in March, and the Reggie Dawson Memorial Math Tournament for third and fourth-grade students in April. These tournaments are open to all public, private, charter and home schools in Bulloch County. 


“It’s not an easy task, but the teachers at Southeast Bulloch have this event down well,” said Sikes. “I look forward to it continuing.” Each of Bulloch County Schools’ nine elementary and four middle schools competed in the tournament along with Bulloch Academy and Statesboro STEAM Academy. SEBHS’s Math Department faculty (Pat Collins, Susan Boddiford, Amy Bettinger, Kristen Barnhill, Tammy Olliff, Maria Oliver, Ansley Burke, Elizabeth Garvin, Heather Brown and Paula Miller) organize and host the Tournament each year.  They are especially appreciative of Farmers and Merchants Bank’s and Penny Sikes’ long-standing sponsorships that allow students to compete for free. Other local businesses, Ken's IGA, South Georgia Sales, Coca Cola, and Uncle Shugs and Chick Fil A donate food and coupons each year for the students and coaches.


Individual Competition
In the Individual Competitions each of the 164 participants took a 50-question, written test. The top-ten students for both fifth and sixth grades received awards, and their scores were factored into the overall team awards.  


Victor Lee of Sallie Zetterower Elementary won 1st Place in the Fifth-grade Individual category with a score of 49 out of 50 points. Eric Lim, last year’s fifth-grade champion won 1st place for Sixth-grade Individual with a score of 48 out of 50. The remaining individual scores are as follows: Fifth-Grade Individual – Nicholas Cortes, 2nd, JPBES; Eli Compton, 3rd, JPBES; William Wu, 4th, BES; Hyeonsu An , 5th, JPBES; James Park, 6th, SZES; Cage Hickman, 7th, SZES; Abby Smith, 8th, JPBES; Tyler Sleep, 9th, JPBES; Moses Brunt, 10, BES. Sixth-Grade Individual – Andy Yao, 2nd, SEBMS; Ian Talkington, 3rd, SEBMS; Lillian Kollars, 4th, LCMS; Jude Jones, 5th, SEBMS; Cohen Kessler, 6th, SEBMS; Leilani Bell, 7th, LCMS; Dxyah Andreassen, 8th, LCMS; Sachi Shah, 9th, SEBMS; Jennifer Zheng, 10th, LCMS. 


Ciphering Competition
Students competed in teams for Ciphering, which consisted of two, eight-question rounds. Julia P. Bryant Elementary and Southeast Bulloch Middle School won first-place in their respective divisions. Other top teams included the following: Fifth Grade Ciphering – Sallie Zetterower, 2nd Place; Brooklet Elementary 3rd Place; Sixth Grade Ciphering – Langston Chapel Middle 2nd Place; and Statesboro STEAM Academy 3rd Place.