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Marius Nicoli, national Informatics group's coordinator: Children's joy makes me go further

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Teacher Marius Nicoli, from the Fratii Buzesti National College of southern Craiova, one of the coordinators of the national Informatics team of Romania, took the Romanian tricolour to almost all corners of the world, together with his students, with whom he won dozens of medals at the international Olympics.

Nicoli is a high school teacher ever since the fall of 2000.

"From the very beginning of my career, I was attracted to working with the talented students at Informatics, training together with them and trying to become better and better. It was initially difficult, like any beginning, but our participation in the Olympiads -they always ended with results that gave us confidence that what we do is good and that motivated us for the future. In 2001 we had the first qualified student at the national stage, in 2003 the first Mention at the national stage, in 2005, the inspector from Dolj sent me for the first time to accompany the students from Dolj to the national stage, which meant a lot to me. What is interesting is that there were companions like Adrian Panaite from Botosani, Szabo Zoltan from Mures, Mr. Galatan from Bistrita, Adi Pintea from Cluj, from what I remember. So those of us who are now in the group that coordinated the Olympics in these years. We were a generation that took all the steps," Marius Nicoli recalls.

In 2009, when he had more experience and felt at another level, he again accompanied a group of very good children, and then, in Galati, he had the first student, Alex Cazacu, who won a prize at the national stage.

"And what was most important for me was that the teachers there invited me to the preparation of the national team. I didn't even know what that meant, because I wanted to have a pupil who would enter the team, but I didn't even think to go. And since then I stayed in the team and in each one I went to two camps," the Informatics teacher says.

In 2010, he had the first qualified student in the national team of Informatics, in 2011 he had the 1st prize in the 9th grade, the 1st prize in the 12th grade, the 2nd prize in the 10th grade, at the National contest, after which they were more children who qualified in the team. During this time, 161 qualifications were collected at the national stage, 148 distinctions at the national stage, 25 qualifications in the national team, 18 medals at international competitions in the Ministry of Education's calendar. And because his students drew attention through their results, they were invited as a city (Craiova) to various international competitions, where the children he guided won another 32 medals.

Since 2009, he has been a teacher-coach of the Romanian national team. Since then, 23 team tables have been collected in which he put his knowledge, time and passion at the service of the students who represent Romania. In 11 times he was nominated to lead the national team abroad and in many other times he led the Craiova team. He carried out scientific activity within international committees as president or member, at the Balkan Junior Olympiad or at the International Team Computing Olympiad. Starting from 2018, he is the coordinator of the national junior team, and the beginning of the pandemic found him in this position.

In 2020, during the pandemic, the teacher-student community organized itself at the national level and, at the International Olympics organized by Singapore, Romania obtained 4 medals, one of which was gold.

"In October 2020, I was elected coordinator of the national lots and the first thing was to give a good sign to the Romanian pupils so that they could continue their training in Informatics. I launched and coordinated the national InfoPro training program which took place through 4 monthly rounds of training contest, with 4 value levels each. The community members participated fully by proposing problems and editorials with descriptions of the solutions, thus keeping the students' interest in Computer Science awake. In parallel, a contest platform was also tested which was later used at the 2021 Olympiads", teacher Nicoli describes the activity during the pandemic.

With the development of InfoPro, steps were taken to create a scientific society that would organize the community from a formal point of view, thus appearing SEPI: Society for Excellence and Performance in Informatics.

"This created a lot of emulation in the community and it was decided to organize the Olympiad with all its phases. The title was OSEPI (Olympiad of the Society for Excellence and Performance in Informatics), being in the position of coordinator of this project. Almost 4,000 students from all over the country participated in the various stages of the selection, starting with the training session, then the county, national and the selection stages of the representative teams. The young people who represented us at the international competitions came with a rich harvest of medals, also repeating the performance at the International Olympiad: 4 medals, including one gold. Even though it was a very busy year, we complied with the request of the International Committee of the European Junior Informatics Olympiad (EJOI) and accepted to host the 2021 edition. I was president of this competition and we were happy that we, the Romanians, could also contribute to motivating children from 29 other countries, during the difficult situation caused by the pandemic. In 2022, SEPI and the Ministry of Education signed a collaboration protocol and the Olympiad took place in partnership," Marius Nicoli adds.

He was also the team leader of the national senior team at the International Informatics Olympiad in Indonesia, where all the students won medals, including a gold one, and with this year's result, Romania climbed to 2nd place in the All Time ranking of the International Olympiad, counting by the number of medals.

In addition to the preparation for the Olympiads, the teacher says that he always worked differently in the class, trying to address everyone according to his/her needs and possibilities, his former students attending prestigious faculties in Romania and around the world and many of them, Olympians or not, work at the most prestigious companies everywhere.

Asked how he sees the state of the education system in Romania and the status of the teacher, Marius Nicoli says unequivocally that teachers need to be much more relaxed and respected by their students.

Every year, Marius Nicoli participates in the meeting of the sons of the village of Maglavit, his birthplace, organized by the mayor Marius Muresan on the day of the commune, celebrated by the Nativity of the Mother of God, and this year he received the title of Honorary Citizen, which he says represents one of the most important personal moments.

"I am connected to Maglavit, to the people here, to all my ancestors here, even if some of them are no longer there. All those who were, they are all there. At that moment I thought of all of them, because as I used to know them, they were hard-working people, and this title was perhaps an accomplishment for them, for all of them," Marius Nicoli concluded.AGERPRES

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