McGill-Toolen Catholic High School took part in the 39th annual University of Alabama High School Physics Competition at the Ferguson Student Center on Friday January 30, 2015 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The competition had more than 24 public, private and magnet schools registered, 61 teams posted and more than 280 of the best physics students (mostly seniors) from schools in the southeast United States vying for trophies, awards, medals and scholarships. This high stakes Physics competition is the oldest, longest running and most prestigious Physics competition in the region and annually attracts the highest quality science programs and the best students in the southeast region of the United States.
The McGill-Toolen Physics Team attained a rare "three peat championship" by taking 1st place for the third consecutive year in the Private School Division. The A-Team and B-Team won 1st Place AND 2nd Place in a division which had the highest average scores of all divisions. McGill-Toolen also won 2nd Place AND 3rd place over all schools in all divisions (Public, Private and Magnet Schools). The McGill-Toolen Physics Team had four competitors with perfect team rounds and two more competitors who did not miss a question!
On Thursday (January 29) two teams of competitors from McGill-Toolen departed McGill-Toolen and stayed the evening in Tuscaloosa. The day of the competition, Friday January 3oth began with a mass at Holy Spirit Parish in Tuscaloosa. At the close of the mass Fr. Jeremiah Deasy (the celebrant) recognized the team. An hour later in the Ferguson Center grueling individual physics tests were taken by the competitors. This was followed by a team cipher that lasted until 11:45 AM. A special physics show and awards ceremony followed that afternoon in The Ferguson Center Auditorium.
The McGill-Toolen Physics Team consisted veteran competitors Matthew Davis (senior), Chris McDonald (junior), Connor Kusch (junior) and Claire Powers (sophomore). Rookie competitors included John Michael McGuire (senior), Josh Maeir (sophomore) and two freshmen Peter McDonald & Patrick Spafford. The team escorts included Mr. Tom Mcdonald, Mrs. Theresa Burgess and Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess
Team Performance and Honors
Teams are placed in divisions of 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.
"Perfect Rounds" are earned by correctly answering all 4 presented physics problems correctly in 40 seconds or less. Perfect team rounds were posted by Chris McDonald, Claire Powers, Connor Kusch and John Michael McGuire. Patrick Spafford and Peter McDonald answered all team round questions correctly.
McGill-Toolen Catholic High School was awarded 2nd Place among all Schools in all divisions (among public, private and magnet schools) in 2015. This is the third consecutive year that McGill-Toolen has placed 1st or 2nd among all schools in all divisions.
The Physics Team visited the newly built Catholic Student Center at the University of Alabama. Fr. Gerald Holloway provided the McGill-Toolen Physics Team with a tour of the newly built facilities and church. The team was told that Nick Saban is an active member of the on campus parish.
Physics Team moderator Dr. Tim Burgess (McGill-Toolen Science Chair) noted "The competition this year was fierce. Our competitors showed amazing character and resilience as there were three lead changes over the 16 rounds. Our competitors never gave up. A three peat Championship is rare for any school in any division and McGill-Toolen Catholic High School Physics Team accomplished this in the most challenging of all divisions" (the private school division consistently has the highest average scores of all the divisions).
Dr. Burgess continued "Physics is the gateway discipline to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers. The amazing performance of our Physics Competitors in winning at statewide says something substantial about the preparation our students are getting in STEM related courses. Students who learn to genuinely reason in science will certainly nurture more career options (including STEM careers) AND also develop a deep and vibrant faith. Our 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 three years, is only possible with community support and we are very grateful!"