Wednesday, July 29, 2015

School, Team & Individual Winners in 2014!


                McGill-Toolen Catholic High School took part in the 38th annual University of Alabama High School Physics Competition at Galallee Hall on Friday January 31, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  Due to cold weather  and icy conditions in other parts of the state additional schools engaged in the competition on Tuesday February 18th (2014) at the Bryant Convention Center.  Performance from both competition dates was used to select the winners.  There were 19 public, private and magnet math-science schools,, 44 teams and more than 200 of the best physics students (mostly seniors) from the southeast region of the United States.  This high stakes Physics competition is the oldest and most prestigious in the region attracting the quality science programs and the best students. 
      The McGill-Toolen A-Team won 1st Place in the Private School Division AND 1st Place over all schools in all divisions. Two McGill-Toolen students were warded Top Individual Honors (one was a junior ranked 6th among all competitors.)  McGill-Toolen was also awarded 1st Place among all Schools based on both individual test results and team performance.  Five McGill-Toolen competitors had perfect team rounds (tying the the highest ever for McGill-Toolen) including 2 freshman, a sophomore and 2 seniors.
       On Thursday (January 30) the two teams of competitors from McGill-Toolen departed McGill-Toolen at noon in a mini-bus and arrived at Comfort Suites in Tuscaloosa at 5:15 PM.  That evening, after a team meal the McGill-Toolen competitors attended a "viewing" at the campus Observatory and were treated to of a live exploding "supernova" (visible to large telescopes on earth for 2 weeks only ).  The day of the competition on Friday January 31 began with a mass at Holy Spirit Parish in Tuscaloosa. At the close of the mass Fr. Deasy (the celebrant) recognized the team (the team goes to a mass prior to the competition every year) and he asked how the Physics Team had done in the previous year.  The congregation erupted into applause when they were informed that McGill-Toolen was defending, for the first time, a Physics Championship won in that previous year (2013).  An hour later in Gallelee Hall grueling individual physics tests were taken by the competitors.  This was followed by a team cipher that lasted about an hour.  Then a special physics show and awards ceremony followed that afternoon.  Demonstrations and experiences using resonance tubes was provided by Dr. Harrell (Professor in the Physics Department) and that was followed by a tour of the interactive Freshman Physics Lab.  
     The teams on McGill-Toolen A-Team included Collin Phillips, Chris McDonald, Jacob Jagielllo and Matthew Davis, .  The McGill-Toolen B Team included Tim Deighton, Erin Hannahan, , Connor Kusch and and Claire Powers.  Brennin Griffin was an alternate.  The team was escorted by Dr. Hannahan, Dr. Weber   and Dr. Tim Burgess.   
     On January 31, 2014 McGill-Toolen earned team and individual scores but official results and placement had to wait until all teams had participated.   Remaining schools and teams attended a postponed competition on February 18, 2014.  This provided all opposing teams, schools and individuals with eighteen more days to prepare for the same items and rigorous individual tests.  McGill-Toolen competitors waited anxiously for the results over then next 2 and a half weeks.  On February 19, 2014 Dr. Keel, the competition director, emailed Dr. Burgess the results.  The two week disparity did not prevent the McGill-Toolen A-Team or school from winning top honors! 

Team Honors
     Teams are placed in divisions of small public schools, large public schools, private schools and science-math magnet schools. All divisions do the same problems at the same time and are rated based on correct answer and time of response.  
     The McGill-Toolen A Team consisted of seniors Collin Phillips and Jacob Jagiello,  junior Matthew Davis and sophomore Chris McDonald scored 78 points (2 points short of perfect!)  This team was awarded first place in the "Private School Division" and won 1st place Overall teams from all school divisions.  This is the second consecutive year that McGill-Toolen has won 1st among all teams in all divisions.  The B-Team consisted of senior Erin Hannahan, sophomore Connor Kusch along with freshmen Claire Powers and Tim Deighton
     Perfect team competition rounds are earned by correctly answering all 4 presented physics problems correctly in 40 seconds or less. Perfect team rounds were posted by Collin Phillips, Jacob Jagiello, Chris McDonald, Claire Powers and Tim Deighton.  Matthew Davis answered all team round questions correctly.

Individual Honors:
     Collin Phillips and Matthew Davis earned "Top Individual Honors" (with the highly prized medallion for that award) and qualified for full scholarship offers.  Collin Phillips (senior) obtained the 5th highest score among all students at the competition on the 75 minute scholarship exam.  Matthew Davis (junior) assigned the 6th highest position based on a free response tie breaker.  This is the third consecutive year that a McGill-Toolen student (or more) has earned this award and the second time two McGill-Toolen students have won the award in the same year! Collin Phillips and Allen Davis have a claim on the full four year scholarship to the University of Alabama as a result of this performance.

School Honors:
     The final and most prestigious award is the "School Award Trophy" which is based on a combination of top team score and average individual scores.  McGill-Toolen Catholic High School was given the 1st place "School Award" for the second consecutive year!  Consistency at this overall level of performance is a tremendous accomplishment.

      Physics Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess (McGill-Toolen Science Chair) noted "Intellectual talent, dedication and the disciplined development of reasoning are required to win at this competition and this accomplishment says great things about our students, school and community.  Our competitors truly reached higher and went further!  This amazing performance is an accomplishment rare for any school from any region.  This is the second consecutive year of such a sweep and all of us should be thrilled about the message that is sent with this accomplishment."
      The emphasis of McGill-Toolen in recent years on the synergistic relationship between faith and science has laid the ground work for the accomplishments of our outstanding science students. I personally believe that students who learn to genuinely reason and develop fully our God given intellects will nurture a deep and vibrant faith.  Success also springs from the support of our community as displayed in the fabulous facilities and resources our students enjoy while doing scientific reasoning day in and day out in the class room.  Success, as we had these last two years, is made possible with the tremendous community support we have and we are very grateful!"
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In all the material above it is important to remember that the views expressed by me here, on any website or in any publication by do not  represent the views of  McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, 
Archdiocese of Mobile or any  part of the Universal Catholic Church.
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