2014-03-21 / Front Page

Put to the test, team gets high marks

Middle school squad takes second at MathCounts state meet in Fairfield
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – The MathCounts team at Middle School of the Kennebunks placed second at the state competition at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield March 8.

The MathCounts Foundation, founded in 1983, is a nationwide organization that caters to middle school students who have an interest in competitive and engaging arithmetic.

Middle School of the Kennebunks has been involved with MathCounts for about 12 years, during which time students have placed higher than fifth place at state competitions and regional competitions 12 times.

The middle school team has advanced to the national competition three times. A display case housing all 12 trophies can be found in the lobby of the school.

Members of MathCounts practice with the school’s math league, participants in the Southern Maine Math League. Many of the students are in both groups, which means double the practice.


Lily Verna checks her answers with Oliver Wainman and Daniel Behrens. Verna, Wainman and Behrens are eighth-graders at Middle School of the Kennebunks and members of Math- Counts, a national program of competitive math students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The team from the middle school placed second in the state competition in Fairfeld on March 8. Left, Colby Ellis, a seventh-grader at Middle School of the Kennebunks, utilizes note paper to work on a math problem during the joint math league and MathCounts practice after school on Monday. The two teams typically practice twice a week together. (Alex Acquisto photos) Lily Verna checks her answers with Oliver Wainman and Daniel Behrens. Verna, Wainman and Behrens are eighth-graders at Middle School of the Kennebunks and members of Math- Counts, a national program of competitive math students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade. The team from the middle school placed second in the state competition in Fairfeld on March 8. Left, Colby Ellis, a seventh-grader at Middle School of the Kennebunks, utilizes note paper to work on a math problem during the joint math league and MathCounts practice after school on Monday. The two teams typically practice twice a week together. (Alex Acquisto photos) “For number two did you guys get 200 minus 25 pi?” Daniel Behrens asked Lily Verna and Jackie Allaire-MacDonald during the MathCounts’ after-school practice.

“I think that’s why they (MathCounts) were so strong –– they were practicing twice a week,” Ann Rodier, MathCounts coach and calculus teacher at Kennebunk High School, said of the students who earned second place. “The kids had a very strong round at the end ... it made it particularly satisfying.”


Students display a sense of humor while working on a math problem Monday at Middle School of the Kennebunks during the after-school joint practice of the MathCounts group and Southern Maine Math League students. Students from the middle school recently placed second in the state MathCounts competition. From left are Andrew Ladd, Colby Ellis, seventh-grade math teacher Jenessa Cadorette, Jason Albaum and Juli Ennis. 
(Alex Acquisto photo) Students display a sense of humor while working on a math problem Monday at Middle School of the Kennebunks during the after-school joint practice of the MathCounts group and Southern Maine Math League students. Students from the middle school recently placed second in the state MathCounts competition. From left are Andrew Ladd, Colby Ellis, seventh-grade math teacher Jenessa Cadorette, Jason Albaum and Juli Ennis. (Alex Acquisto photo) While MathCounts is comprised of sixth-, seventh- and eighth- graders, the Southern Maine Math League is grades five through eight.

“Most of the students are accelerated by two years,” said Rachel McGlashan, a gifted and talented math teacher at Middle School of the Kennebunks.

McGlashan, along with seventh-grade math teacher Jenessa Cadorette, lead the math league. The math league has more meets but fewer demands when it comes to competition.

Students are just as skilled, however, McGlashan said.

“One of our sixth-graders placed 12th in state this year,” she said as she motioned to Andrew Ladd who was working quietly on a math league group-practice problem with four other students. “Most of the students have been doing math league since the fifth grade,” McGlashan said.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids who are really motivated and just love math ... a lot of the kids really get into it,” Rodier said of a handful of students who get particularly emphatic when competing.

One of those students, Jason Albaum, a seventh grader, sat at the same table as Ladd.

The students worked alongside one another for at least three 15-minute rounds; sometimes they used their calculators and other times they did not.

After the timer went off, the students would compare answers. The students’ concentration was palpable, as was their excitement when they discovered they’d all come to the same answer.

Just before the timer buzzed and the students compared their solutions, Albaum scribbled, erased, scribbled and whispered to himself, “Well, there’s your answer.”

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