Poland Math Club boasts great group


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

POLAND

It’s the best team they’ve seen in years — and they’re not talking sports.

School officials say they have a truly excellent group of elementary- and middle-school students in Math Club this year.

“In the past, we’ve always done well, but this group is exceptional,” said Mark Covell, middle-school principal.

So exceptional, in fact, that one student almost got to represent Poland at the national MATHCOUNTS competition, a nationwide math competition for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.

Eighth-grade student Sam Delatore was just one question away from qualifying for nationals after he placed fifth out of 191 students at the state competition. He also got first place in two rounds.

In the “Countdown Round,” Sam faced off against one other student. They had 45 seconds to buzz in and answer each question.

“The feeling when Sam got there for his first head-to-head challenge at state. ... The first question came up — I wasn’t even done reading it, and he buzzed in,” said Janice Hohloch, assistant math coach.

Poland did well as a team, too.

“They placed seventh out of 31 teams, which is very, very difficult,” Hohloch said. Team members Mum Masaki, Jacob Snyder, Sam and Ashlin Rabindra, plus individual competitor Diego Calderon, got to state after they placed first, for the second-consecutive year, out of 19 schools at the regional competition at Youngstown State University.

Poland had six students in the top 16 at YSU. Sam won first place overall.

MATHCOUNTS requires students to answer a range of questions that require critical thinking and problem-solving.

“There’s everything from algebra, geometry, number theory ... everything you can imagine. It blows me away,” Hohloch said.

The team’s MATHCOUNTS success is partly the product of a recent push to emphasize mathematics at McKinley Elementary and the middle school.

“Middle-school students are really driving the district right now,” said Laurie Delaney, a parent volunteer who started many of the math programs.

“These kids can start in elementary school, and have a math program all the way through high school. That’s what we wanted to do,” she said.

Students also participate in American Mathematics Competitions.

Poland Middle School scored in the top 25 percent of teams worldwide in the AMC 8 contest; Sam qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination after he took the AMC 10 test and scored in the top 2.5 percent internationally.

Although students at times feel pressure to excel, they said they also have fun with math.

Ashlin, a seventh-grade student who placed fourth overall at YSU, joined math club because his older brother was in it and says he enjoys the activities.

“These kids have made math club cool,” Covell said.

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