Field Stevenson Elementary School will serve as host to nearly 200 students February 11 for the annual West 40 Math Olympiad. The competition, a long-standing West 40 tradition, includes various teams of first through eighth graders from up to 15 school districts in the western suburbs of Cook County.
“(The Olympiad) is a nice competition for children who have a high interest in mathematics ” and a high aptitude for mathematics, too,” said Douglas Dirks, who works at West 40 Intermediate Service Center No. 2 and has been organizing the Olympiad for the last twelve years.
“(Events like the annual Math Olympiad) are an effort to reward and encourage kids with intellectual skills in the same way that a sports competition does for kids blessed with athletic capabilities,” he added.
Each participating school district sends one team of students to the Olympiad from each of four different age brackets: 1st and 2nd grade, 3rd and 4th grade, 5th and 6th grade, and 7th and 8th grade. According to Ann Mertz, a challenge teacher at Field Stevenson who has been involved with the Olympiad for three years, a qualifying test is administered to District 91 students interested in participating.
Teams of four students plus two alternates each are chosen based on the qualifying test and several restrictions, which mandate that every team includes students from both grades encompassed by its bracket, in addition to at least one girl and one boy.
“It’s something that’s been done in the past in Forest Park. The kids really like it ” at least, the kids who get on the team really like it,” Mertz said, adding that as part of their preparation, students participate in practice sessions during the month before the Olympiad.
The morning of the Olympiad, students compete in three different events: a mental math portion for which no scratch paper is allowed, an individual event for which students are allowed to make calculations, and a group event for which the four team members are all confronted with the same problems and must come to a consensus about which answer to submit.
At the end of the day, prizes are awarded for the top scorers in each grade level and trophies are awarded to the top three scoring teams.
“It’s really a lot of fun ” kids really get into it, and the competition is really fierce, and at the assembly kids are cheering like crazy when we announce the winners and take pictures and all that,” Dirks said.
Participating Forest Park students
Grades 1 and 2
Genna Foster (1) Betsy Ross
Garen Hudson (2) Betsy Ross
Nicholas Lange (2) Grant-White
Ralen Riccardo (2) Garfield
Nathan Spears (1) Field Stevenson
Nicola Walker (2) Field Stevenson
Grades 3 and 4
Rey Nicholas Carpio (4) Field Stevenson
Zachary Giers (3) Betsy Ross
Robert Hoskins (3) Garfield
Kayli Osuoji (4) Betsy Ross
Ethan Rosa (4) Garfield
Dehlia Shaher (3) Field Stevenson
Grades 5 and 6
Siddharth Kusuma (6) Middle School
Jack Marino (5) Betsy Ross
Marikate Marino (6) Middle School
Olivia Mott (6) Middle School
Sean Neice (5) Garfield
Steven Neice (5) Garfield
Grades 7 and 8 (all Middle School)
Patrick Dorneker (7)
Angel D’Souza (7)
Briana Pusavc (8)
Andrew Sloan (7)
Matt Walsh (7)
Samantha Zaverdas (8)