Students and teachers took the stage at Horace Mann School in North Bergen April 3 and played games that not only spotlighted math’s whimsical side, but focused on its practical uses.
ArtsEcho, a Union City non-profit arts organization, had received a $500 per show grant from Target that enabled Horace Mann School, as well as Lincoln and John F. Kennedy schools, to take part in “Arithmetickles.”
“Arithmetickles” was actually founded by ArtsEcho 12 years ago and now is performed at schools across the country. The show was started by Sandra and Ben Bendor, who wanted to find a way make mathematics interesting rather than daunting for their children. Beginning in 1996 with 32 performances, the show now has 750 annual performances, making it the most popular math-oriented assembly program in the nation.
At Horace Mann, the show’s host, Mike McCarthy, called upon students in grades three through five to take part in games that highlighted multiplication and how it would eventually be needed in their adult lives. The show tackled numbers, percentages, fractions, and logic and math problems, with audience participation, improvisation, skits, and stand-up comedy.
Teachers stood on stage and pretended to be characters like Hannah Montana, Superman, and Beyonce. Each had a job, like Superman, who became a chef who illustrated the necessity of math.
Fifth grade student Gail Cevallos said this was her favorite part of the day.
“He [McCarthy] would pretend he had a remote and make them pause and freeze there,” said Cevallos.
Cevallos said that “Arithmetickles” simplified math and made it “way more fun.”
Grateful for show
Horace Mann Vice Principal Richard Locricchio said that without Target’s funding, his school might not have been able to afford the show. He said he was grateful for a program that made students so enthused.
Target, which has a location in North Bergen on Tonnelle Avenue, donates 5 percent of its earnings to support education, which amounts to $3 million per week nationwide.
“At Target, our local grants are making a difference in the communities we serve,” said Laysha Ward, Community Relations Vice President of Target. “We’re proud to partner with ArtsEcho and ‘Arithmetickles’ as part of our ongoing commitment to give back to the communities where our guests and team members live and work.”
‘It was pretty awesome’
Computer teacher Tasha Murphy said the show was excellent and that it dealt with concepts that all of the grade levels were currently learning.
“It’s not just what you learn in the textbooks,” said Murphy. “It’s actually what you learn in the textbooks that you can apply to real life.”
Fifth grader Jeanette Fernandez took the stage and participated in a game with fellow students where they had to jump whenever they encountered the number seven or any of its multiples or factors.
“It was funny and cool,” said Fernandez.
Fellow fifth grader Emily DeCaro said that the math they learned was “cool” and that anyone could use it. Both DeCaro and Fernandez hoped that their teachers would incorporate some of the games into the classroom.
“I think it was pretty awesome,” said DeCaro.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.