SCHERERVILLE | Forest Ridge Academy is home to an abundance of "mathletes" - at least that's what coaches found out when they put out a call last December for Math Academic Teams for Hoosiers Bowl team members.
Students in grades 4 to 6 were given the opportunity to sign-up, and 20 is the limit for the team. However, coaches Thespena Panos and Bhavani Venkataramanan found 32 children hoping to compete.
“This is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had,” said Panos. “Many schools have children try out for the team and, unfortunately, they have to make cuts. Turning down any of these students wasn’t an option for us.
"We knew somehow we needed to keep everyone. If a child is that interested and excited about math, how can you squash their enthusiasm for learning?”
Luckily for Forest Ridge, the Indiana Association of School Principals and Purdue and Indiana universities, added a new feature this year, a new division allowing schools to enter a team consisting of only fourth-graders.
“We were very excited about the new division, because it gave more students the opportunity to compete,” said Panos. “We entered our regular team that included fifth- and sixth-graders, with an additional team that allowed our fourth-graders to compete separately, without the pressure of competing against older students.”
Eighteen region schools competed recently in the 17th annual local M.A.T.H. Bowl competition hosted by Kahler Middle School in Dyer.
Marcus Chang, a fourth-grader at FRA said, “I was a little nervous. I felt happy because normally, fourth graders join the team and practice, but have to wait until fifth or sixth grade for their turn to compete. It was awesome.”
The FRA fifth- and sixth-grade team edged out St. Mary School of Griffith by one question, resulting in a win with 26 out of 28 correct for the night’s competition.
The FRA fourth-grade team finished first in their division as well.
Statewide results were posted after scores from more than 7,000 students were submitted. Forest Ridge Academy's fifth/sixth grade team placed fourth in the state out of 112 teams in its division. The fourth-grade team finished 15th out 63 teams statewide.
“We couldn’t believe the types of problems these kids needed to solve within 30 to 60 seconds. It was very rewarding watching our daughters compete and what an incredible accomplishment for both teams,” said Dr. Joe Spott, of Scherervile, whose daughters, Maritza, sixth grade, and Lauren, fourth grade, both competed.