First Rate π-Rates

Mary Wallace, Staff Writer

On a Thursday afternoon in October, a collection of high school students headed to Fall Mountain.  This small group, unbeknownst by many, is the Bellows Falls Math Team (otherwise known as the π-rates… the debate over whether it’s pronounced “pi-rates” or “pirates” remains unresolved).  So what do they do?

Every Monday in Terrier Time, the Intermediate team (freshman and sophomore students) gathers in Mr. Murphy’s room, and the Senior team (junior and senior students) gathers in Mrs. Swan’s.  They have four meets every year, where they compete with teams from other schools in a series of three-problem long tests.

Each math meet has four test categories, but each competitor can only compete i

n a maximum of three.  Three of these categories are individual, meaning you solve problems without the help of your teammates, and one (commonly graphing) is a group category, meaning you have the help of your teammates.  The three problems in each category add up to ten points total; the easier problem being 2 points, the harder problem being 5, and that in the middle accounting for 3. In the end, the points earned by each team are tallied and the results are announced.  After our last meet in October, the Senior team placed ninth in their league with 26 points, and the Intermediate team placed fifth in their league with 91.

The locations of math meets vary, but they begin at 3:45, and, depending on the location, may lead to students leaving school early.  During the testing sessions when certain individuals are not competing, they can gather back with the rest of the crowd and eat; food is often provided by the hosting school.  At our last meet in October, Fall Mountain had pizza, chips, and bottled water for the competitors to snack on. Our next meet is in Windsor, on December 12. Later this year, we are hosting a home meet at Bellows Falls.  

Math team looks good on a college resume, and the activity isn’t overly time-consuming.  The meets are fun; a relaxed sort of competition, and they feed us good food. The π-rates are always welcoming new members (especially freshmen, as the author of this brief article is currently the only one), so feel free to talk to Mr. Murphy or Mrs. Swan about joining.