WEST ORANGE, NJ - Following a successful year of district and state competitions including winning the first place trophy at the Math League Elementary School Competition at Far Hills Country Day School in December, qualifying members of the Golda Och Academy Lower School Math League headed to Houston on June 5 to compete in the National Elementary Championship.

During the state competition in April, the top-10 participants in each grade qualified for the national competition. The seven GOA team members who qualified are: Ilan B. (fifth grade), Eli B. (fifth grade), David H. (fifth grade), Sarah F. (fifth grade), Liam R. (fourth grade), Andrew T. (third grade), and Joseph S. (third grade). The students then competed against the top scorers from several states in the US at Nationals. Although the actual testing was scheduled to take place on Shabbat on June 6, accommodations were made for GOA students to be tested on Friday.

“This year’s Math League participants in grades three, four and five have made all of us at Golda Och Academy incredibly proud,” said Carrie Z. Siegel, Lower School principal. “Under the direction of two outstanding coaches, Ms. Kelly Maiello and Mr. Josh Allen, these students have worked hard individually and as teams. They have all spent many recess periods and time after school to grow, learn and succeed in a very competitive math program. Their achievements are truly impressive.” 

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“I’m so proud of the Math League,” said Kelly Maiello, GOA math enrichment teacher and one of the team’s coaches. “They really were eager to learn and came to practice three times a week, giving up lunch and recess to be here.”

To prepare for all of the competitions, Maiello said she introduced certain concepts to the students that they hadn’t yet learned in the classroom, since it would appear on the tests. “My favorite thing is when the students explain to each other how to solve a problem I give them,” she said.

In addition to teaching new topics and methods, Maiello and Allen also had to teach the students how to take the tests, similar to how high school students learn to take the SAT. To prepare for Nationals, many of the team members took old math league tests in addition to attending all of the team’s practices. Instead of reading at night, third-grader Joseph S. said he was playing on his calculator and taking his brother’s old math league tests.

Many of the team members expressed their excitement about the upcoming competition. Fifth-grader Ilan B., who has been in the Math League for the last three years, was extremely excited for the competition. “I think it will be really fun to go to Houston and be with all the Math Leaguers who have made it this far. People have told me how awesome it is to go.”

Fifth-grader Eli B. was looking forward to meeting kids from all over the country. Having been to the competition last year, his advice to his fellow teammates was: “Don’t get nervous!”

“All the students on our Math League team worked very hard all year, and had a good time doing it, getting ready for each competition,” said Josh Allen, co-coach and math teacher. “The seven students who represented Golda Och Academy in Houston have had impressive results, and it is a testament to their hard work and love of math.”

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