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Joyce Endee

In Our Schools: Mathalon Team proves crunching numbers can be fun

The members of the GMS seventh and eight grade Mathalon team, in no paticular order: Stevie Orton, Mariah Nelson, Kassy, Alexa Dembiec, Magie Purcell, Mary Davis, Haley MacLeod and Dawson Ellis; not in photo are Kayla Zarekka and Christien Ayer. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
January 18, 2012
While other students are rehearsing on stage or at sports practice, a young team of seventh and eighth grade students voluntarily give their time every Wednesday after school for an half-hour of math problems.

These students make up the GMS Mathalon team.

This year, coaches by Bill McLane, GMS math teacher, and Lori Hanf, kindergarten through eighth-grade math specialist, have high hopes for the group.

"It's pretty cool that there are this many students who are excited about competing with math," said McLane. "It is a good learning experience."

Each week, students, many of whom McLane said are also involved in sports or preforming arts after school, work through practice problem work-sheets, which are similar in content to those given in the competitions.

According to McLane, team members this year are mostly seventh grade students who are making their mathalon debut, or have moved up from fifth and sixth grade team. With only a few eighth grade students, McLane said the team is relatively young compared to the competition.

This is also McLane's first year as the mathalon coach, and as a GMS teacher.

The team already competed in one of the five total competitions. They met at Belmont Middle School and finished in the middle of the pack.

Though some students seemed disappointment with their performance, McLane assured them that if they continued to work hard through the practice problems, each week, their team would continue to improve.

Some students did, however, say they enjoyed singing along with Kassy's iPod on the bus and the snacks at practice provided by the coaches.

Over all, team-members said their mathalon experience was fun and "pretty rad."

McLane said students usually maintain a relaxed atmosphere at the practices, and all worked well together. With strong finishes in past years, they hope for a good performance going into the next four competitions.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Garnett HIll
Varney Smith
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