Stafford Intermediate School Quintet Emerges as Ocean County Math League Champs

Jun 07, 2017
Photo by: David Biggy Stafford Intermediate School’s fifth-grade crew of (standing, from left) Matthew Yacono, Owen Ruthven, Enzo Russino, Daniella Manochio and Lillian Gale recently won the Ocean County Math League annual competition, while (seated, from left) Lucais Romo, Ryan Gauss, Grant Rupinski and Calvert Turanyi teamed with McKinley School classmate Connor Walsh (not pictured) to place second.

After not placing high during the Ocean County Math League competition last year, Stafford Intermediate School fifth-grader Lillian Gale took a different approach the second time around.

“My teacher, Mrs. (Nadine) Burgess, gave us a practice test, and I was more prepared,” said the 11-year-old. “But last year, I was more panicky about it. I put a lot of pressure on myself. This time, I treated the competition test as something fun. I didn’t psych myself out, and I was definitely more confident.”

It also helped that Gale has a friend like Molly Caputo.

“Molly kept telling me not to be nervous, and to just do it and don’t think much about it,” Lillian said. “She kept telling me, ‘You’re going to do great. You’re so going to do this.’ Her encouragement really helped.”

With classmate Matthew Yacono placing second, Gale finished right behind in third place and helped lead the Stafford Intermediate crew of Enzo Russino, Daniella Manochio and Owen Ruthven to a first-place team finish in this year’s math league competition. On the highly challenging, 25-question test, Yacono correctly answered 17 questions, while Gale managed to get 16 correct.

The team winners are decided based on the cumulative efforts of a school’s top five scorers. Dan Breslow, the McKinley Avenue School adviser and president of the Ocean County Math League, who helps create the test for the league’s annual competition, said about 200 Stafford Township students from the Intermediate and McKinley schools took the test, and 36 schools from throughout the county participated in the competition.

The Intermediate crew’s cumulative score of 70 bested the scores of Sylvia Rosenauer Elementary School of Jackson, Mill Pond Elementary of Lacey and Walnut Street Elementary of Toms River. Rosenauer’s Xavier Lowe was the individual first-place winner.

The team and individual placewinners will be celebrated during an awards ceremony at the Stafford Township Arts Center on Thursday, June 8, at 7 p.m.

Also joining the Intermediate School quintet at the awards ceremony will be the McKinley fourth-grade bunch made up of individual fourth-place winner Connor Walsh, Grant Rupinski, Ryan Gauss, Calvert Turanyi and Lucais Romo. Walsh scored an 18 and the McKinley team finished with a cumulative score of 80, not far behind Lanoka Harbor Elementary School. North Dover Elementary and Cedar Grove Elementary, both in Toms River, placed third and fourth, respectively.

“For all of us, competing in the math league isn’t really about winning. It’s more about learning,” said Romo, who enjoyed the challenge of the test. “We’re all looking for a challenge, and placing second was a reassurance to all of us that we’re good in math. But more importantly, the challenges we take on now will help us later in life.”

— David Biggy

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