Academic Meet Marks a Year of Firsts
By Jeanne Acton, UIL Journalism Director | Friday, May 25, 2012 9:58 AM
At the UIL Academic State Meet, Math Contest Director Larry White congratulates junior Bobby Shen from Dulles High School for his perfect score on the test. Shen won four individual gold medals at the meet.
Photo by Jeanne Acton
It was a year of firsts at the 102th UIL Academic State Meet.
Academic Director David Stevens ran his first State Meet. Junior Bobby Shen from Dulles High School was the first student to achieve a perfect score on a state math test. It was the first year since the 1950s that One-Act Play used panel judging, and the first year extemporaneous speaking allowed computers in the prep room.
And the firsts all appeared to go smoothly.
Dr. Stevens said he was pleased with the success of his first meet. “I didn’t know what to expect so I was prepared for anything,” he said. “For me, it was great. I saw a few minor areas where we can improve and a few major ones.”
While he thoroughly enjoyed being the speaker for the Feature Writing Contest, Dr. Stevens said his favorite part of the meet was getting to attend every awards ceremony.
“Nothing is more exciting than seeing kids rewarded for their success,” he said.
One student who was rewarded more than once at the State Meet was Bobby Shen, who won gold medals for Math (with a perfect score), Number Sense, Calculator and Science.
State Math Director Larry White said while it was “amazing,” it was not unexpected for Shen to score perfect on the state math test.
“I saw the possibility of this happening when I first met him at the 2010 State Meet,” White said. “I thought he was a 12-year old watching the awards assembly. Instead, I put his first gold medal around his neck as a freshman. His 1st place score, 336, was only three problems away from a perfect test.”
“This year, in Number Sense he had a score 364, only six problems from a perfect test,” White said. “What will he do his senior year? Possibly perfect scores on both tests (math and number sense)? I'm not betting against him!”
At the Math Awards Ceremony, White congratulated Shen for his two perfect math tests (State and Regional) and his selection to the IMO (International Math Olympiad) team.
“From the audience, he received a well-deserved standing ovation of which he received graciously with his head hanging shyly down,” White said. “It was with great honor that I was able to shake his hand and drape a very special gold medal around a very special young man's neck.”
For Jana Riggins, speech and debate director, her first year of transitioning computers into extemp went quite smooth. “We had a few issues with power, but the students knew how to handle the problems so we had no delays,” she said. “I anticipate even more computers next year.”
The first year of panel judging also was a positive experience at the State Meet, said Luis Munoz, theatre director. But that wasn’t the only first for One-Act Play. This year marked the first back-to-back championship in 5A. Austin High School with director Billy Dragoo won in 2011 and again this year with King O’ the Moon.
“I saw several excellent plays during the session I attended,” David Trussell, assistant academic director, said. “King O’ the Moon was a flawless production with performances that produced characters you could care about and relate to,”