BROOKVILLE — Both had their supporters: Pine Grove Elementary School principal Earl Deen on one side and elementary assistant Pam Kasten on the other.
Some students thought Deen would certainly be quicker at the times table than Kasten. Others disagreed.
The students have seen Deen in action. He has been challenging students in the hallways, the cafeteria and their classrooms. He eggs them on saying, "I don't believe any of you are going to beat me!" Then he goes to classrooms and engages the more adventurous ones in multiplication match-ups. He wins — most of the time.
When he is outdone by a student, Deen awards him or her with a laminated bookmark that says "You're a multiplication sensation." He is riling his students to learn the multiplication tables. And the students love it.
Those smaller contests escalated into the recent one on the school's morning TV show between the two adults. Kasten threw down the gauntlet when she said, "I believe I can beat you." She and Deen did some bantering leading up to the contest. The students chose their favorites.
The students voted each day leading up to the event as to who they thought would win. Daily data was kept in each classroom.
"It's pretty evenly split," Deen said.
The big day arrived. Deen wore a blue shirt; Kasten wore red. Some of their supporters wore matching colors. The morning show came on. Assistant principal Debbie Shaw acted as referee. The kids cheered in their classrooms. Flash cards flashed, and the red shirts won.
Deen immediately demanded a rematch.
It isn't scheduled yet, but the school is building it up, possibly to a competition that will take place on the school stage, with the entire student population in attendance.
Deen, in particular, is promoting the classroom competitions and the next face-off. And he is getting the students excited about learning their times tables.
They don't want him to beat them. They want their favorite adult to win. They want those bookmarks.
Stay tuned for the next round.