By Michael Puffer, Republican American
WATERBURY — A rhombus is a geometric shape with four sides of equal length and four corners.
Picking one out of a crowd of four shapes is an easy enough task for someone armed with a computer and the Internet. It’s quite different for a team of fifth-graders competing in front of a crowd of hundreds.
It was one of several tough challenges tackled by fifthgraders from Generali Elementary School, Maloney Magnet School and Rotella Magnet School during Tuesday’s Olympics of the Mind, an annual academic competition among city schools.
Waterbury’s 20 elementary schools each sent six students to represent its third grade, and another six representing the fifth grade. In all, 240 children spent the day at the Holiday Inn. They were joined by hundreds of parents. The rhombus question left adults in the audience whispering to one another as they groped for long-forgotten geometry definitions. WATR radio host Bob Sagendorf — asking the questions — announced that his fellow radio personality Tom Chute didn’t know the answer.
“I’m going back to school,” Board of Education member Charles Stango whispered to fellow board member Ann M. Sweeney in the audience.
Two of the three teams guessed correctly. Maloney Magnet School got the most correct answers, winning large trophies for team members and a larger trophy for the school.
Only three teams from each grade were able to compete before the whole assembly. These were selected through written tests taken at the outset of the four-hour competition.
Schools were broken into north, east and west divisions. The three top-scoring teams in each division earned gold, silver and bronze medallions.
The three top scorers overall got the chance to compete before the whole assembly.
The competition was launched six years ago as a way to energize students.
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” excited Generali School third-grader Daiana Lilo exclaimed as her team was announced as firstplace winner in the east division.
Generali has made great strides in meeting federal testing goals over the past year. Its fifth-graders picked up silver medals in the divisional competition. Maloney had the best day, taking first-place trophies for the all-schools competition in both third and fifth grade.
Maloney’s third- and fifthgraders also earned gold medals in the divisional competitions.
Maloney third-grader Emity McEvoy tied with Regan School third-grader Trinity Flores for the highest individual scores in their grade.
Even those students who didn’t win awards received Tshirts with their school colors, labeled “Olympics of the Mind.”
“They love it,” Generali teacher Michael Theriault said.
“They look forward to coming to the hotel. Eating somewhere that’s not their school. The whole experience.”
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