An ambitious group of eight Middle School students represented DCD at the annual MathCounts national competition on February 7 at Melrose High School. Math Coordinator Brenda Leith worked with the group over several months to help them prepare for the test. 

Students who were interested in competing took a qualifying test made up of questions from past years’ tests. Because they hadn’t yet studied most of the material covered on the test, it required them to use their reasoning abilities instead of just memorization or computation.
Once selected, this year’s group of “mathletes”—Sarah Leder, Molly Moir, Jared Ravech, Kai Dixon, Angela Giordano, Charlie Volpe, Alex Burmeister, and Matthew O’Rourke— took on extra work to prepare for the competition, including coming to school early once a week for Math Club at 7:30 a.m. 

They competed against 260 students in grades 6–8 from area schools in the most competitive chapter in Massachusetts. During the all-day contest, students answered questions in three rounds, two independently and one in groups of four.

Math Coordinator Brenda Leith, who hosts Math Club, says the competition is not for everyone. “The contest is very intense,” she says. “Not every student wants that type of competitive experience. It can be very stressful for some of them, even the strongest ones.”
The answers are timed, and students must work quickly without making errors, paying careful attention to reading each question in detail. In the final stage of the competition, the top ten scorers from the three rounds compete jeopardy style.
The important thing, she says, is that the students have a chance to challenge themselves. “The challenge is there if they want it,” she says.