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HMS students qualify for national math competition finals

Jack Meyer received the highest score of any Wisconsin seventh-grader in a national mathematics competition. He will participate in the MathCON finals this weekend in Chicago. (Submitted photos)1 / 3
Elizabeth Collinson had the top score of Hudson eighth-graders on the regional MathCON test, and will travel to Chicago this weekend to compete in the national finals.2 / 3
Elizabeth Yray is a sixth-grader at Hudson Middle School who earned an invitation to the national MathCON finals in Chicago.3 / 3

Jack Meyer, a seventh-grader at Hudson Middle School, did well enough on an online mathematics test to qualify for the national finals this weekend in Chicago.

Meyer scored 276 out of a possible 300 points on the 40-minute, 40-problem, multiple-choice test. He had the highest score of the Wisconsin seventh-graders who took the MathCON test and ranked 16th among seventh-graders in the Midwest Region.

Two other Hudson Middle School students also will travel to the University of Illinois at Chicago to participate in the finals.

Elizabeth Collinson, an eighth-grader, scored 270 to earn a place on the reserve list for the national competition initially. She was invited to Chicago when other finalists were unable to attend.

Collinson had a very high ranking and almost qualified for the national competition with the first group, according to Sarah Engstrom-Yde, the teacher of gifted and talented students at Hudson Middle School.

Elizabeth Yray, a sixth-grader, also made the reserve list initially, and was invited to the national competition when some finalists declined to attend. She scored 256 on the first-round test.

About 500 Hudson Middle School students took the regional MathCON test.

Engstrom-Yde said close to 20 Hudson sixth-graders alone made the honorable mention list, and that multiple seventh- and eighth-graders also received honorable mention. She didn't know the exact number of Hudson students that received honorable mention.

“We have so many very bright, talented, math students,” Engstrom-Yde said. “I think it is really encouraging that we had that many students get invited to nationals. Anytime you can have students competing on that level, I think, is amazing.”

She added later: “I believe that we are highly competitive -- that we're at the top in the country in scores in math.”

Nationwide, 44,073 students in grades 5-12 participated in the first round of the competition, according to the MathCON website. The top 564 scorers qualified for the finals.

The contest is sponsored by two nonprofit organizations -- Buckeye Community Hope Foundation and Partners for Success and Innovation.

The grade-level-specific tests of 40 multiple-choice questions that must be completed in 40 minutes.

“A lot of it is problem-solving application. You have to figure out how to solve the problem … pulling in all the math you have ever learned,” said Engstrom-Yde.

Students from all types of schools take the first-round tests at their own schools under the supervision of their teachers.

Engstrom-Yde organized Hudson Middle School's participation in MathCON. She said classroom teachers could choose whether or not to administer the test, and all of the sixth-grade teachers participated. It was the first time the school has participated in the competition.

It isn't the school's first effort to encourage students to pursue mathematics, however.

In the past, seventh- and eighth-graders have competed in Math Counts, another nationwide contest that aims to challenge talented students.

The school also has a Math Masters club that meets once a week after school and competes against other schools in the region. Sixth-grade math and science teacher Aaron Harker is the club's adviser.

Engstrom-Yde said an impressive number of Hudson Middle School students are in math classes above their grade level.

“We have 75 kids every year who are in pre-Algebra as sixth-graders. That is pretty high-level stuff,” she said.

There are seventh-graders taking Algebra I and eighth-graders studying geometry. Those students are two years beyond the standard math class for their grade level.

Part of the reason Hudson Middle School has so many students who excel at math is its large enrollment -- about 400 per grade level, Engstrom-Yde said.

“And I think we have just a lot of very bright kids in Hudson, too,” she said. “Generally, our children come from a lot of very enriching environment.”

The finalists

Jack Meyer is the son of Greg Meyer, a creative director and freelance graphic designer, and Heather Logelin, the director of foundation and community engagement for River Falls Area Hospital.

Jack has been in the school district's gifted and talented program since he was a student at North Hudson Elementary.

He enjoys math, his father said, but like many preteens, is more interested sports and video games. Jack is on the seventh grade football and basketball teams, and plays baseball and golf in the summer.

Elizabeth Collinson's parents are Monica and Roger Collinson.

Elizabeth Yray is the daughter of Jody and Joe Yray.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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