Holmes, Peet place in state math contest

MathCounts program provided an outlet for creative math students on Friday, April 11.

The Holmes MathCounts team (Akshat Mehta, Anurag Anugu, Pranav Kota, and Jack Beecher) and the Peet MathCounts team (Elliot Purdum, Ed Lin, Sean Radke, and Eric Lucas) recently competed at a competition on Friday, April 5. 

An adviser of the Holmes MathCounts team Karen Newcomb said, “We had a fantastic day on Friday at State. Our school team earned second place out of 23 teams participating, and all five of our state qualifiers placed in the top 25 percent of individuals; there were approximately 150 students who competed at State.”

An advisor of the Peet MathCounts team Sarah Cooper said, “Ed Lin, a seventh grader, placed second at Regionals in February and eighth at State.”

MathCounts is a nationwide competition that involves math problem solving. Typically the problems require students to apply what they’ve learned in their math classes or MathCounts practices in new ways. 

Karen Newcomb, a previous math teacher at Holmes Junior High, and Blair Hudson, a former math teacher at Holmes, operate Holmes’ MathCounts team together with the help of Joe Newcomb. As for Peet, teachers Sarah Cooper and Mary Watson operate Peet’s MathCounts team together.

Newcomb said, “MathCounts is much more interesting than solving the same type of algebra equation over and over again.”

Akshat Mehta earned sixth place at the competition, with a score of 33 points. Akshat competed in the Countdown Round and beat two competitors in the Countdown Round to first defend his original seventh place finish and then rise to sixth place. Anurag Anugu earned 14th place with 29 points, Pranav Kota earned 24h place with 25 points, Jack Beecher earned 29h place with 23 points, and Grant Redfern earned 33rd place with 22 points. 

“Essentially, this means that our five qualifiers are among the 25 best middle-school-aged math students in the entire state. That is pretty awesome. The Countdown Round is a verbal head-to-head competition featuring the top 10 scorers from the pencil-and-paper competition.  Tenth place competes against ninth place, and the person who correctly answers the most out of three questions advances and competes against 8th place, and so on. It’s intense,” Newcomb said.

Holmes had a total of five students that qualified for State. These students had placed first (Akshat), third (Anurag), fourth (Grant) and sixth (Jack) at the chapter competition in February, and the team with Akshat, Anurag, Jack and Pranav placed first there. They also took a sixth student, Abby Sliwinski, to State as an alternate.

The advisers are passionate about their teams and encourage others to join them in their success. “I think anyone can benefit from learning problem solving strategies to answer interesting math-related questions. It’s fun to think creatively about new problems and to challenge our brains,” Newcomb said. “The kids would probably say that the best part of being in MathCounts is the food at our math club meetings, but I think the best part is seeing how far the students come from the beginning of the year to the end, as they learn new strategies and tricks in order to become stronger and faster problem solvers.”

Hudson shares similar favorites from this year, “The best part of Friday’s competition was to see our students recognized for their hard work in the team competition and how excited they were.”

“The best part was seeing the students work together to solve problems. They do a great job of problem solving and working together,” Cooper said while sharing her favorite part of the MathCounts season.

Along with the hard work and dedication that was proven through practices come countless moments to celebrate and be proud of the ones who made it happen. “Our students met after school every Tuesday from September onward, with extra practices in February and March. They were a very committed bunch. I’m really proud of all the work that all the students put in and that we got to see it pay off for them. It’s hard to pick a favorite moment, but it was definitely fun to see our students do so well both individually and as a team,” Newcomb said.

Hudson, in agreement with Newcomb, said, “My favorite part of Math Club is how much fun everyone has just doing math together. I learn something new from the students each week as they often find quicker and more creative ways to solve problems.”

MathCounts has a chapter competition in February and a state competition in March. There is also a national competition in May, but only the top four individuals at State qualify for that. There was also a school competition held in January to help determine which students would be on both the Holmes and Peet teams and compete as individuals for the school.

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