Annual Mathematics Quiz: Round One

Finally, the day has come, for the much awaited mathematics competition in Nightingale Academy, tagged ‘Annual Mathematics Quiz’. Of all the 6 participating students, only Ayo was visibly nervous before the start of the quiz. She had no idea why. Maybe, it’s because this was her first time participating in a mathematics-only competition or it was because she didn't believe in herself. The prying eyes of the JSS 1 student didn't leave her body too. This added to her anxiety.

Ayo was with her classmates when the quiz master finally called on her name. Her body shook with vigour, as she was being invited to the podium. She started to fidget and looked like someone who was terrified.

“You can do this, Ayo,” one of Ayo’s classmates encouraged. 

“Don’t be scared!” another said.

“Ayo, don’t put us to shame. Go there and make us proud,” Bukky added.

“I believe in you, Ayomide Cole.” It was Bayo’s voice. Just as if Ayo was waiting for Bayo to speak, she dashed out and took her seat on the podium, arranged for the contestants. Hers was in second in line. To her right was Funmi, who had been her tutor for the past few weeks.

After all participating students have been seated, the quiz master recalled the names just to ensure they were seated according to their contestant number.

“Contestant one,” he called. “Funmilayo Ogunbiyi, JS 1A!;

“Two, Ayomide Cole, JS 1B!;

“Three, Bidemi Gbadamosi, JS 2A!;

“Four, Daniel Chisom, JS 2B!;

“Five, Emmanuel George, JS 3A! And finally contestant six, Aduragbemi Sodipe, JS 3B!

“Last year’s winner, Emmanuel George and runner up Bidemi Gbadamosi are also here on stage. Will the youngsters in JS 1 be given a chance this year? Let’s see if Emmanuel will win the title of ‘Outstanding mathematics student of the year’ for the third time and go home with the” – he raised his voice – “gold medal!”

As if signaled to do so, the one in charge of music, jockeyed the disc, to make a loud scratching sound, followed by a pre-recorded applaud.

“Before I forget,” the quiz master continued. “We also have Aduragbemi Sodipe, the second runner up from last year. She was also the runner-up during her first year as a JS 1 student. Let’s see if she can beat Bidemi to it this year and pull off the runner-up shoe.”

The students laughed at this joke while the DJ played a short recording of laughing children. It gave the occasion the boost it deserves.

The principal addressed the students with the opening speech. In it, he stated the purpose of the competition, which was to encourage the students and give them insight of what to expect in the inter-school Mathematics Olympiad.

The quiz master took the microphone once again and announced, “There are three stages in this competition.” He made signs with his free hand as he speaks, especially when there’s a number involved. “In each stage, 10 questions are asked from each contestant and a point is awarded for each correct answer provided.

“In the first stage, two contestants will be disqualified while in the second stage, one more would be disqualified. At the final stage, the remaining three contestants battle until a wrong answer is given by any two of them. Then and there, the first, second and third position would be announced.”

The students applauded once again.

“Are you all ready?” the quiz master asked and the contestants answered positively. “Okay! Contestant one, your question!” 

And so the quiz began…

“Mr. Dammy, do you think she can progress past the first stage?” a female teacher seated beside Mr. Dammy on the high table asked.

 “Who?” Mr. Dammy asked, feigning ignorance.

“Ayo, of course!” Mrs. Folarin replied.

“I believe in her. Let’s leave who progress and who don’t, to the judges, to decide.”

Mrs. Folarin did not believe for a second that Ayo would progress past the first stage, not to talk of winning. She believed Emmanuel would win it for the third consecutive time, just like the majority of the teachers and students of the school believed. However, Mr. Dammy’s thought was opposite of others but he decides to keep it to himself instead.

After about an hour, the first stage came to an end and the quiz master wore the same funny look he wore at the beginning of the round. The students watched him with renewed interest and he seemed to be enjoying his time, keeping the result at bay.

Finally, he spoke. “Here are the points after the first stage!” He looked at the paper, the judges had just handed over to him, and smiled as he read from it.

“Funmilayo Ogunbiyi, 7 points; Ayomide Cole, 6 points; Bidemi Gbadamosi, 9 points; Daniel Chisom, 5 points; Emmanuel George, 10 points; Aduragbemi Sodipe, 6 points.”

He looked up at the audience and continued, “There seem to be a tie between two of the contestants. So, we shall advance to a tiebreak round between Ayomide Cole and Aduragbemi Sodipe. A round of applause for them!”

The DJ was first to applaud, with sound from his Music System, before the students joined in. While they applauded, Ayo let out a sigh of relief to stabilize the rhythm of her heartbeat. It seemed to have been beating too fast, since the start of the round. As glad as she was that that round was over, she feared the tiebreak round even more. A one-on-one with a JSS 3 student and a one time runner-up, whom the quiz master had said might win the competition, wasn’t what Ayo had presumed would happen to her. However, being ahead of Chisom, a JSS 2 student, motivated her to keep on and not relent. Not to mention, the approval signal her classmates made with their thumb. Mr. Dammy gave her an approving nod, with a weak smile to support it. Ayo smiled back at him and focused more on her breathing, which was returning to its normal rate by the passing minute. A glance in the quiz master's direction, Ayo knew he was on one of his endless speeches, in commendation of the previous winners. At that moment, Ayo wanted nothing more than to be praised in one of the quiz master's future speeches.

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