Science team has another good year

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Several local high school students have pulled together in aunique way to create a successful team that has been first in thestate for six years in a row.

Each year, around 15 Brookhaven High School students are honoredto be selected as members of the prestigious team. But it’s not anathletic team, it’s an academic team.

The Science Olympiad team is made up of students who havedisplayed a special interest in the field of science. Students areselected based on their grades and teacher recommendations, ratherthan how fast they can run or how high they can jump.

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“It gives them a chance for extracurricular activities and togain extra knowledge,” said Theresia Dyess, a biology teacher whoserves as one of the coaches.

The students work hard throughout the year training forcompetitions. They spend countless hours after school learning asmuch about science as they can.

“Different coaches are assigned different categories and theyprepare the students in those areas,” said Amy Rutland, who servesas head of the science department and one of the coaches, alongwith Dyess and Shelley Huskey.

The three coaches are assisted by Wendall Henagan and BryanEubanks in their efforts to prepare the students for competitions.This year the students brought back 13 gold medals, five silvermedals and one bronze medal.

The team’s hard work has paid off with six first place honors inthe state and five appearances in national events.

“We’ve been successful because of the determination of the kids.They want to keep succeeding,” said Dyess.

During competitions, teams are divided into groups participatingin individual events ranging from construction to knowledge recall.The events cover information on biology, chemistry, computerscience, earth science, physics, astronomy, geology andengineering.

Students also test inventions they designed, such as the “BottleRocket” constructed from a two-liter plastic bottle, a propelledaerodynamic device called the “Wright Stuff” and the “MissionPossible” project of energy transfers.

They also demonstrated knowledge of taxonomic keys, practicedlab skills, identified chemical substances and minerals, explainedcell structure and function and answered questions on a variety ofother topics.

The Brookhaven School District has been very supportive, but theteam’s followers reach even further.

“Last year, the community really supported us when we soldsponsorship spots on the back of our T-shirts,” said Rutland.

The fund-raising effort that was received by the local communityso well came after the team did not receive the grant it has gottenfrom Jackson State University for the last few years. The supportmade the team’s success possible once again.