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Catholic Math League puts Scecina students' knowledge to the test

Mark Aaron (front center) scored among the top freshmen on the first Catholic Math League test. He said he knew some of the material but other problems were challenging. "But that's what math is about," he said.

By Beth Murphy,
Director of Marketing Communications

The test is timed. You have 30 minutes to complete 25 problems. No calculators are allowed. Nearly 800 math students around the country are competing with you. The top three scores from each school are used as that school’s team score.

It’s the Catholic Math League. This year marks the first time Scecina has participated in this national math contest that encompasses four tests over the school year.

“It teaches (students) to quickly solve problems and find shortcuts to save time,” said math teacher Diane Hollowell. “It really prepares them for taking the SAT.”

She said the quickness required on the timed test forces the students to “use any kind of skill they can think of.”

Mrs. Hollowell, in her second year at Scecina, brought the idea to Math Department chair Natalie Leonhardt. “She readily accepted and said, ‘Let’s do it,’ “ Mrs. Hollowell said.

“I think being a part of the Catholic Math League is beneficial for our students to challenge themselves within their current math class,” said Ms. Leonhardt. “It’s also helpful for our students to get some extra practice taking standardized tests. Our hope is to provide some friendly math competition but also increase each of our students’ standardized test scores. “

After the first test in November, with 125 schools participating, Scecina’s Advanced Math team, led by Haodong Liu, Jacqueline Kennedy, Jonathan Card and Isabel Dailidonis, was 19th in the nation. The Algebra 2 team, led by Drew Smith, Carly Ferree and Katelyn Hartman, was 21st.

“That’s really good,” Mrs. Hollowell said about Scecina’s ranking in its first Catholic Math League test. “I’m really excited. Most schools don’t enter if think they won’t score well, so we really are competing against top schools in the country.”

Mark Aaron said math isn’t necessarily his favorite subject. Yet he rose to the challenge. He scored among the top Scecina freshmen on the Algebra 1 team on the first test.

“I felt I was challenged,” said Mark. “I knew some of the material, and I was challenged by others. But that’s what math is about.”

Mrs. Hollowell said the students have three levels in which to compete: school, division and nation. After the fourth and final test in March, the top three students for each school will receive a certificate for each subject. Divisional and national awards will be given out then, too.

 “The kids really are eager now,” said Mrs. Hollowell. “They’re now asking me, ‘Do you have the practice test yet?’ They’re ready to go. It really stirs a little competitive fire among them. They get competitive with each other.”


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