AGazine, July 2014

The Online Magazine of the Academic Games Leagues of America

News & Notes R.I.P. Jim Davis Down Memory Lane Past AGazines


News and Notes

Here is the story written by John Shearer and posted in the Knoxville News Sentinel April 27 during the 2014 AGLOA National Tournament.

Students at the Knoxville Convention Center have been experiencing the rigors of taking a standardized test in the classroom with the fun twist of family game night in the living room. This ACT/SAT meets “Jeopardy” style of play is the 49th annual Academic Games National Tournament, an Academic Games Leagues of America-sponsored event running Friday through Monday./p>

Some 900 youngsters from Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, West Virginia and Colorado have been competing in language arts, history, English and mathematics.

But instead of just answering questions that they have memorized, like at a spelling bee, the students also have opportunities to challenge each other and expand on a question. For example, in the language arts, one student may ask a student to say a four-letter word, and the next student may ask another student to say a four-letter word with an x in it.

It develops critical thinking,” said tournament director Rod Beard of Michigan. “It makes you consider a lot of different possibilities.” But it apparently also makes for a lot of fun, much more so than a typical day at school, according to competitor Joshua McIntosh from Detroit. “The atmosphere is better than school,” he said Sunday afternoon during a break between competitions. “You may win sometimes, and sometimes you may lose, but the atmosphere and environment are just so entertaining. It just warms your heart.”

Besides the fun and possibilities to win competitions in four different age divisions from elementary school through 12th grade, the games are also designed to have some real world applications. Stephen White of Hancock County, W.Va., said he believes playing the games since the fifth grade have helped him become the first student from his high school to be accepted into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for this fall. “It really helped define me academically and helped me to reach scholarship goals that I never thought I’d get to,” he said. “I would never have gotten here without Academic Games and the accelerated curriculum it presented to me. And the way it does it is a fun and competitive environment.”

Beard, who is a sports writer for the Detroit News, is a former competitor who said the games gave him a confidence that helps him in the working world. “It showed me I had the ability and gave me a forum that showed I could be smart in society,” he said.

This is the second time the games have been held in Knoxville, and Beard said it may become part of the regular rotation because of the convenience of nearby hotels and the ability to have all the competitions in one building.

Rules Changes for 2014-15

  • Equations: With upside-down and sideways both in force, a cube may be used both upside-down and sideways in the Solution (but not the Goal).2014-15 Equations Tournament Rules
  • On-Sets 2014-15 Tournament Rules
  • Propaganda: Sections B, C, D, E will be played in all divisions.
  • Presidents: Elem/Middle divisions will play Presidents 25-44. The theme in all divisions is Slogans. In Junior/Senior, a second them is Domestic Affairs. Also, Jr/Sr clues for #25-44 may involve U.S. Leaders from Group 4: Cesar Chavez, John Foster Dulles, Sandra Day O’Connor, Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Henry Kissinger
  • World Events: The theme is “The 1960′s in the United States”.
  • LinguiSTHIK: LT 10 FUNCTION DEMAND Under Verb replace predicate with main verb.
    The definition of a MAIN VERB which has been updated in the 2014 Judges Manual is as follows: MAIN VERB – This is the verb in a clause that identifies the action or state of being of the subject of the clause.

Board of Directors Meeting

The AGLOA Board of Directors met in Orlando July 11-13. At the meeting, the Board:

  • Selected Craig Zeller of New Orleans to replace Jim Davis on the board.
  • Toured the facilities of the DoubleTree by Hilton and decided where each event of the 2015 National Tournament will take place.
  • Planned the events to be held and discussed items to be distributed at the 50th Celebration. As well as reviewed the process of contacting alumni.
  • Revised the time schedule of the tournament to accommodate the 50th celebration activities.
  • Made a list of potential sites for the 2018 or 2019 tournament (Knoxville having already been approved for one of those two years) that members of the Tournament Council may visit before making final decisions.
  • Approved the formation of a task force to bring the rules, procedures, and terminology of Equations, On-Sets, and LinguiSHTIK into greater harmony for the 2015-16 school year.

ZellerBeardBoardMtg WhiteWrightBoardMtg
L-R: Board members Craig Zeller, Rod Beard, Stu White, and Steve Wright
Also present were Larry Liss, Nancy Kinard, and Bro. Neal Golden


R.I.P. Jim Davis

Jim Davis – a fallen warrior, jovial, sensitive, admirable, dedicated – a real friend.

On July 8, 2014, AGLOA lost a Founder. Jim Davis of Allegheny Valley, PA, lost a valiant struggle with brain cancer. His wife, Sandy, told Larry Liss, Dave Campbell and I (Stu White) via email that Jim was peacefully taken this morning. Jim and Sandy have two children and four grandchildren.

The word “Founder” needs some explanation. AGLOA is but 22 years old; yet Jim Davis’ contributions and participation began decades before. Better descriptors for Jim might be “originator” or “sustainer.” Like most things in life, timing is of the essence. Jim was a dynamic math teacher in 1966 when Bob Allen, brother of Layman Allen, along with Larry Liss brought the concept of Academic Gaming to Pennsylvania and met Jim. Jim became the coordinator of the Allegheny Valley School District Academic Games program that Fall – one of ten school districts in Western PA that formed the first ever Academic Games League in the country. It changed Jim’s life and changed the lives of countless gamers in the keystone state.

Jim Davis, Stu White, Larry Liss
L-R: Jim Davis, Stu White, and Larry Liss

Jim attended the Academic Games Nationals – then called the Olympics – in 1967 and for every year thereafter until his illness stopped his string of continuous tournaments in 2012. His Allegheny Valley teams were champions over and over. Jim invented the role of Head Scorekeeper for the tournament. When the tournament board deemed it important to recognize “outstanding sponsors,” Jim was the first recipient of such an award and indeed the award was subsequently named in his honor. Nothing made Jim prouder than being on the stage to present that Thinker to a deserving educator.

His acute sense of irony, his rapier wit, his ingenious humor, his abiding dedication to excellence in teaching made Jim a unique educator. He was warm and encouraging and accessible. Jim left the math classroom in Allegheny Valley to become the Gifted Program Director which gave him even more influence in promoting AG.

When AGLOA split from the National Academic Games Project in the early 90’s, Jim became a “Founder,” along with Brother Neal Golden, Stu White, and Larry Liss. Those were stressful days, and Jim’s courage was unmitigated.

Jim Davis was a dear friend. When I (Stu White) met him at Kent State in 1974, we recognized that we were singing from the same songbook. Our irreverent instinct for the “wacky” led us down many hilarious paths. No journey was too long if there was a laugh at the end. Props and costumes just served as vehicles for our hope to entertain. Nothing gave us more joy than to lighten the atmosphere during heavy competition at Rock Eagle or Gatlinburg or Tuscaloosa. Our scoring room, “The Throne Zone,” became our opportunity to watch serious educators humble themselves before us. Nothing was sacred, and you saw those people only once a year.

Please know that Jim Davis was the shining example of an AG coach; academically demanding yet fully aware that our competition led to integrity and character building. Jim knew that gaming was an alluring entrance to the full blossom and wonder of mathematics. What a guy…

Three of his many dear friends and colleagues,

Stuart White, David Campbell, and Larry Liss


Down Memory Lane

Here’s the schedule of events at the second National Academic Games Tournament at Nova High School, Fort Lauderdale FL, as sent in a February 6, 1967, letter from Robert Allen, Director of the National Academic Games Project.

I would like to take this opportunity to announce the opening of registration and schedule of activities for the SECOND ANNUAL NOVA ACADEMIC OLYMPICS. This year’s tournament schedule is as follows:

Wednesday, April 19 Arrival in Fort Lauderdale; Meet host families
Thursday, April 20 EQUATIONS Tournament (Team) 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Friday, April 21 PROPAGANDA Tournament – EQUATIONS Individual playoff

9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Saturday, April 22 GAME OF DEMOCRACY Tournament 9:00 Am – 3:00 PM

Evening dance (informal) and Awards Presentation

Sunday, April 23 Beach Party

Teams will be composed of five (5) players and there will be team and individual champions crowned for junior high (7-9) and senior high (10-12) in each of the three tournaments. In addition, overall team champions for junior high and for senior high will be determined by combining the team results of all three of the tournaments. This will be done in the following way: (Assume there are 40 teams competing)

First place – 40 points; 2nd place – 39 points; 3rd place – 38 points, etc.

If a team finishes third in EQUATIONS (38 points), sixth in PROPAGANDA (35 points), and first in DEMOCRACY (40 points), that team would score 113 points. If their total is greater than any other team competing, they would win the overall team championship.

All players should be encouraged to participate in all three of the games. If some students are unfamiliar with THE PROPAGANDA GAME and/or THE GAME OF DEMOCRACY, they should be assured that both games can be learned quickly. Instruction will be given in the play of both games before the competition begins.

Each afternoon there will be a WFF’N PROOF Tournament for those individuals who wish to compete. An individual champion will be crowned but team scores will not be kept.

Comments are closed.