From HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union:
Do you know what a tessellation is? Can you find Malawi on a map? Can you explain how you use math in your everyday life?
Thirty-three students from Team 7D at Southampton Middle School can do all of that plus a whole lot more. That’s because those were just a few of the tasks they completed on their way to an extraordinary accomplishment, crossing the finish line in the Marathon of Achievement.
The Marathon of Achievement, or MOA, is a way for the students to excel outside of their regular studies. Created by Southampton Team 7D teachers, the goal is to challenge students with academic, cultural and character building exercises that offer each of them a chance to be a winner. Students are given a list of 30 possible activities; they must choose and complete 26 in six months in addition to their regular studies and activities.
MOA is open to all Team 7D students but it’s not an easy task. This year out of 110 students, 90 requested the information packets, 60 began the marathon, but only 33 crossed the finish line. They were honored for their efforts at an awards banquet sponsored by their school’s business partner, HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union, Harford County’s Education Community credit union.
“Between sports and school many students realize they can’t do it,” explains Nicole Neubauer, Team 7D’s math teacher. “It says a lot about the students that they realize what kind of time they have to give. MOA, whether or not the students finish, really teaches responsibility and time management.”
It also teaches the students about themselves. The students who complete the marathon do not always know they have what it takes when they start. “When I went into it I didn’t really think I was smart enough to do this,” says finalist Emily Bowler. “I kind of shocked myself with what I did.”
All of the work must be completed outside the school day’s requirements. Some of the challenges included community service and cultural education events, map memorization, giving up TV for a full week, or creating a board game including at least 26 language arts facts. Many of the tasks focus on community service and cultural education. Motivation and time management skills quickly become critical.
“I was thinking about quitting,” admits finalist Jared Pridgeon. “I talked about it and mapped it out and decided to try to finish.” Jared wanted to see if he could do it, but he had another reason, too. “I’m not really into work but I heard about the party and the cake and wanted to come. So I did it.” Jared took on the task of explaining tessellations as part of his marathon. “There are a lot more tessellations around than you think,” he learned. A tessellation, by the way, is created of identical shapes made into a pattern, like a honeycomb or M.C. Escher’s artwork.
“This is one of the most rewarding programs HAR-CO participates in,” says Teresa Knox, HAR-CO Vice President. “We are always delighted to celebrate with the finalists at the end of the year banquet. This is an impressive accomplishment.”
“The ceremony and reception are always a special event for the students,” says Bill Carpenter of Team 7D, one of the original creators of MOA. “The students look forward to it. Their families really encourage them and it’s just exciting to see how hard everyone works.”
The party and cake, which features photos of all of the MOA finalists, are the culmination of the marathon. One of the highlights of the reception is the guest speaker. This year Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, spoke to the finalists. Dr. Qunones-Hinojosa arrived just in time for his address, having completed two emergency brain surgeries earlier in the day.
“Success is a combination of passion, work and good luck,” he explained to the finalists. “We have to continuously strive to chase that good luck through work every day. There is no question in my mind that we do today will have an incredible impact on the future. The future of our country is right here in this room, with you. For us to continue the success of our nation in the future we need to continue doing events like this.”
The 2011 Marathon of Achievement Medal Recipients are:
Prince Steven Nyaga
Southampton Middle School students, along with teacher Bill Carpenter from Team 7D and keynote speaker Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, director of the Brain Tumor Surgery Program at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, celebrate the completion of the Marathon of Achievement at a dinner reception sponsored by the school’s business partner, HAR-CO Maryland Federal Credit Union.