MSMS Students Compete in Battle Between Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi


Helen Peng

Mu Alpha Theta members Michelle Luo and Gary Nguyen are hard at work at Ala-la-miss

Victoria Gong, Copy Editor

MSMS math enthusiasts gathered in Hooper Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 13, for the second round of the Ala-La-Miss tournament, hosted by Mu Alpha Theta. With a placid, “You may start,” from Mr. Kishan Patel, a Mu Alpha Theta sponsor, students hurriedly flung over their test papers and began work.

“Ala-La-Miss is a year-long math contest between high schools in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi,” Mr. Patel reported. In each of the six contest rounds held throughout the school year, students have 30 minutes to answer six questions. The top five individual scores from each school are summed to create the school’s score. Last year, MSMS placed first in the competition.

Mr. Patel also expressed his hopes that this year students who participate in the contest will see an improvement in their overall math skills. He added that the contest problems encourage students to “think outside the box” and “answer problems they may not experience in a typical math classroom.”

These sentiments were also reciprocated in student participants.

“You wouldn’t think that six problems would take up 30 minutes, but they’re very challenging, and they push you to think critically,” junior Helen Peng said. “Overall, I think it was an amazing experience.”

Senior Gary Nguyen agreed, stating that the Ala-La-Miss contests help “invoke creativity and problem solving strategies.”

On the other hand, junior Michelle Luo called the competition “an interesting event” and said, “I guess I’m obligated to participate in the subsequent rounds because I haven’t missed a single Mu Alpha Theta meeting so far. I think.”

After 30 minutes of furious scribbling and occasional displays of frustration, the students handed in their papers to Mr. Patel, who immediately emailed Mu Alpha Theta members the answer keys and explanations to the six problems. Some competitors lingered to read through the solutions and discuss which questions they got correct, eventually leaving with an enhanced understanding of mathematics.