Niall McNellis won the pre-algebra competition at the Tri-State Math and Computer Olympiad at Wallace College in Dothan Feb. 5. He is a seventh grader at Charles Henderson Middle School and a top math

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 21, 2002

Lucky numbers: McNellis takes top honors at tri-state math competition


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Niall McNellis is one of only two Charles Henderson Middle School students who have ever placed first in the Tri-State Math and Computer Olympiad held at Wallace College in Dothan Feb. 15.

The CHMS seventh-grader beat out 150 other young math scholars for top honors in the pre-algebra division for mid-sized schools with a score of 178.

"That was an outstanding score," said McNellis’ math teacher, Dot Green. "The students are given five points for a correct answer and a point is deducted for each incorrect answer to discourage guessing. The highest possible score is 225. Niall’s score was higher than the usual top score in pre-algebra. He did an outstanding job and is to be congratulated."

McNellis is no stranger to math competitions. He won the Troy City Math Tournament last year, but winning a competition that pits students from Alabama, Florida and Georgia against each in problem solving was very exciting.

"I was surprised that I won because there were so many people competing,’ McNellis said. "We had 45 problems on the test and some of them very complex."

Because a one-point deduction is given for wrong answer, McNellis said, "you don’t want to make a mistake."

Even though McNellis is an outstanding math student, math is not his favorite subject.

"I like math about the same as the others except band," he said. "I play trombone and I really like band."

The seventh-grader does like numbers, however, and his favorite is "7."

"I’ve just had a lot of lucky things happen to me that had something to do with the number "7."

Not the least of which is winning the Tri-State pre-algebra competition as a seventh-grader, he admitted with a smile.