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Whitby School Students Finish in Top 5% of National Mathematics Competition

Whitby School Students Finish in Top 5% of National Mathematics Competition

Fifth-grader Sohan Javeri and seventh-grader Elan Suttiratana credit their success in the competition to the cultivation of their love of the subject by Whitby School teachers.

Fifth-grader Sohan Javeri and seventh-grader Elan Suttiratana—both students at Whitby Middle School, a co-ed independent school in Greenwich, CT—competed against more than 56,000 middle school students across the U.S. to finish in the top 5 percent of the AMC-8, a national competition administered to students in eighth grade and younger by the Mathematical Association of America. The AMC-8 allows students in middle school to develop positive attitudes toward analytical thinking and mathematics, assisting them in future careers.

Whitby’s Math Club may be on hiatus this year due to COVID-19 and strict student cohorts, but that did not stop students in fourth-eighth grades from entering the AMC-8 competition. The students prepared under the tutelage of Maureen Pica, a Whitby Middle School math teacher and long-time Math Club coach. When asked about the value of math competitions, Pica said, "These competitions challenge students to stretch their thinking in new ways. They provide a way for students to connect with other math enthusiasts both at Whitby and in the wider community (at least in non-pandemic years when the MathCounts competition happens in person). Plus, it's fun to compete."

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Both Sohan and Elan say they have a passion for math that developed at an early age—and it continues to be cultivated by the Whitby faculty. Elan tracks his first memories of math to age 5, when he realized "math could make order out of chaos." Meanwhile, Sohan recalls that his preschool teachers, recognizing he could solve math problems, enabled his math journey with number stamps before he was able to write numbers as a student in the Whitby Montessori Children's House program. Throughout their time at Whitby, teachers have provided personalized learning experiences for both students, in line with Whitby's ongoing commitment to create an environment where there is "no ceiling on learning." This commitment continues today as both students study high school geometry as fifth- and seventh-graders.

The boys' passion for math does not just live in the classroom—each participates in other competitions and programs. Elan enjoys flexing his math muscles in Khan Academy and enters other competitions when he has the chance. He is also a member of the Whitby Mathletes, a math club that is open to all middle school students, which allowed him to compete in MathCounts last school year.

Sohan also works his math muscles outside of Whitby. He enjoys participating in math competitions whenever the opportunity arises. He also tutors friends and family in math and credits the Whitby math curriculum's emphasis on explanations, proofs, and justifications for his instructional skills. Plus, he participates in programming run by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the Art of Problem Solving.

Elan and Sohan are just two examples of how Whitby students learn math in an appropriately paced, real-world context throughout the educational continuum. For many children, this begins in the Montessori program and concludes in eighth grade. Whitby reports that more than 88 percent of 2020 graduates were recommended for accelerated math in high school, and 72 percent were on track to take AP calculus.

For more information about Whitby School, visit whitbyschool.org.

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