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Langley High School

By Sally Dadisman

The Saxon Scope News Editor, Langley High School

Along with Campbell’s Soup Company, Langley students are “Tackling Hunger” by donating soup cans towards the CRM missionaries in D.C. The drive, which lasts through Sept. 18, prefers Campbell’s Chunky soup cans, because Chunky soup provides the nutrients of a whole meal. However, all cans are being accepted. With a goal of collecting 3,000 cans, classes with the most cans at the end of the drive will receive a prize.

In a tribute to the American Spirit, students gathered in memory of Sept. 11 in the front of the school by the memorial garden that the ECO Club set up last year. Organized by the Environmental Care Organization (ECO) Club along with the SGA, all attendees were welcomed with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a moment of silence and the National Anthem sung by the Madrigals. Reflective thoughts from ECO Club members and Fairfax County Supervisor Stuart Mendelson were then shared. The ceremony concluded with a wreath laying and a trumpet playing of “Taps” that was echoed through the campus.

Seniors held their major fundraiser, a class dinner, on Sept. 10. To start things off that day all seniors wearing red were given doughnuts in the auxiliary gym. The dinner was a Chinese buffet, catered by Panda Express, a Chinese restaurant in McLean. There were 120 more people than expected. The other classes will be having their dinners within the coming weeks. The freshman dinner will be on Sept. 24; the sophomore dinner will be on the 25th and the junior dinnes will be on Sept. 18th.

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Eighth graders Men Young Lee, Blake Thomas, Team captain Peter Diao, (all from Longfellow Middle School), and Neel Kotra (Langston Hughes Middle School) went on a four day, all-expenses-paid trip to Chicago to represent Virginia at the National Math Counts Competition. There they competed against four students comprising 56 other teams, representing all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas, and State Department and Department of Defense schools overseas.

Virginia placed fourth this year, the third year in a row that four Fairfax County students representing the state have placed in the top five in the nation.

MathCounts, a nonprofit organization sponsored by The National Society of Professional Engineers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, NASA, CNA, and other companies, encourages middle school students to study math by providing challenging materials and exciting competitions.

A half million students participate at some level. After school practices in the fall, school teams are chosen to participate at district competition in February. District winners compete at the state level in March, and the top four in each state go on to national competition.

The Longfellow students flew to Chicago to compete this year. It was the first time the national competition was held outside of Washington, D.C.

Longfellow Middle School’s team of Veronica Pillar (second in the state and #22 in the nation last year as a seventh grader), Peter Diao, MenYoung Lee and Blake Thomas came in first in the Northern Virginia District, with Veronica, Peter and Blake all earning perfect scores.

Longfellow Middle School placed first in the state for the third year in a row, again earning trophies and scholarships for placing first, second, and third individually in the state.

Along with student coach Veronica Pillar, MenYoung Lee, an authority on Star Trek memorabilia; Blake Thomas, an athlete in many sports; team captain Peter Diao, an avid tennis player and chess champion; and Neel Kotra, sports enthusiast and viola player, practiced math problems for six hours a week, sometimes with Thomas Jefferson’s math team, to prepare for the competition.

Volunteer coach and math teacher Barbara Burnett said she was thrilled that the students worked so hard to earn such a high ranking in the nation.

They finished 1.5 points out of first place behind California, which which earned 56. Peter and MenYoung were enrolled in honors algebra II/trig and pre-calculus with Williams this year.

Blake and Neel both took honors geometry courses for at least two years ahead of most of their classmates.

The MathCounts contests involve several different rounds. The first two involve only individual work, and the third a team round. The highest ranked students in each level of competition participate in the Countdown Round, on stage, two at a time, pressing a buzzer to answer a word problem projected on a huge screen first, and correctly. Peter Diao was able to overcome the pressure of performing before a large audience to win this round at Districts and States this year.

Burnett said she and assistant coach and math teacher Vern Williams are already preparing material for next year’s Longfellow team.