Eccles math team members in grades 4-5 scored in the top 50, 10 and 2 percent of participants in the contest

HERALD PHOTO: KRISTEN WOHLERS - Eccles math teams scored in the top 50, 10 and 2 percent of participants in the Math Olympiad.

On Thursday, June 7, Eccles Elementary math team members gathered in the school library with their parents, coaches and teachers to celebrate success in the recently concluded Math Olympiad contest.

More than 76,000 students across the states and in 30 foreign countries participated in the Math Olympiad at the elementary level (grades 4-6). The contest consists of five tests with five questions each, taken over the course of four months, for a possible total of 25 points per individual per year. Officials score the tests and report the top individuals and teams.

Two fifth grade math team members, Teagan Troutman and Hunter Robinson, placed in the top 2 percent, earning a gold pin and an embroidered patch.

Another fifth grade student, Sophie Peto, placed in the top 10 percent, which earned her a silver pin and the embroidered patch.

Several Eccles math team members scored in the top 50 percent of participants. They are Brenden Snyder, Anthony Furduy, Daniel Clark, Maddox White, Jackson Twitchell, Nico Yazzolino and Nelly Piekarz.

The success has parent volunteer and leader Myron Peto looking forward to next year.

"Math Olympiad does recognize those students that get a perfect score, 25 out of 25. We don't have anybody in that category, but we came pretty darn close," Peto said. "We'll see what happens next year as everybody that was doing it this year has the potential to do it next year."

Eccles math teams came about because fourth grade teacher Jacquie Fitch had done the Math Olympiad with students in the past, including some from the high school's graduating class. This year, she was looking again for a way to challenge students.

That's when Peto stepped in and started up the math teams for advanced students or for any who wish to participate.

"I just want to make sure everyone knows how hard Myron works on this," Fitch said at the awards presentation. "We meet every Thursday…and he lets us know how the kids are doing. I've had so much fun getting to know Myron and how passionate he is about this. So, I just want to make sure we all give him a huge round of applause. He puts tons of time into this."

Fitch applied for and obtained a grant from the Canby Education Foundation to fund the teams. Along with Fitch, fifth grade teacher Adam Gingerich also supports the program.

Eccles now has math teams for both fourth and fifth grades, coached by parent volunteers including Peto, Andrey Chernishov, Anna Chernishov and Bill Hayhurst. They meet weekly on Thursday mornings before school. The teams competed at an in-person math contest this year in addition to their participation in the Math Olympiad.

Eccles teachers have been pleased with how participation in the math teams has positively impacted the classrooms.

"Speaking for all the staff that are teaching some of the kids in this group, it's making a really big difference in our rooms," Gingerich said. "It's helping us become better teachers. We're able to work with a rigor level that maybe we hadn't fully realized before. So I really appreciate this program, and I know all of us do. So thank you Myron, thank you coaches, thank you kids and parents. I know it's been a lot of work, but you guys are really making a difference and it's showing up in our rooms every day."

Both Fitch and Peto envision expanding the math teams to other schools and eventually holding a district-wide contest modeled after Oregon Battle of the Books. There is talk of a Knight-Eccles contest next year.

Peto is willing to be a resource for teachers or parents who are interested in starting up math teams at their school. He can be reached by contacting the Eccles office at 503-263-7120.

Kristen Wohlers
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