This year, eight Kemper Elementary students won national awards for mathematical excellence through the Math Olympiad program.
The program involves a series of written challenges administered throughout the school year. This was the 40th year of the competition, which started as a way to spark kids’ interest in mathematics and problem solving.
“I was just really proud that I was even in a final,” said Joshua Wilkerson, one of the fifth-graders recognized. “I just didn’t think I was going to be in it at all.”
Twenty-two Kemper students participated in the Math Olympiad, joining nearly 160,000 students around the world who also took part.
Participating students competed in five monthly contests from November through March. Each contest included five problems, and students were given 30 minutes to solve them.
The questions forced students to consider difficult problems and think creatively, said Melanie Cook, a Kemper teacher who coached the students and led practice sessions.
“There was usually five questions,” said Emilio Duran, another student who won an award. “And usually the last two were the hardest, and the first one was usually the easiest.”
The eight students won national awards for excellence in their division for grades 4-6: Jonathan Sandner performed in the top 10%; Emilio Duran, Veronica Ethington, and Josh Yarbrough in the top 20%; Cory Carver in the top 30%; Jaris McDonald and Joshua Wilkerson in the top 40%; and Dimitri Webber in the top 50%.