State competition awaits five Hannibal Middle School (HMS) students following a successful showing at the 2018 Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Contest on Saturday, Feb. 24 in Louisiana.

State competition awaits five Hannibal Middle School (HMS) students following a successful showing at the 2018 Missouri Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MCTM) Contest on Saturday, Feb. 24 in Louisiana.

Seventh grade math teacher Meredith Morrison took her first turn in the testing area as the group of 24 HMS students worked on 30-question tests without a calculator, pairs of math problems with a time limit of six minutes and timed team exercises. Math Department Chair Melinda Kneib said she and Morrison feel “very proud” of all of the winners and participants — eight students from each grade were selected to attend the February contest — based on criteria like STAR test results and problem-solving abilities during class. During the competition, HMS teams brought home four out of five awards in the team round and sending five students to state competition on Saturday, March 24 at Selvidge Middle School in Ballwin.

Morrison said parents of at least 13 of the students came down to offer support. She said all of the participants were “focused and quiet” throughout the event. Before the competition, HMS competitors regularly practiced in groups and individually to prepare for questions both teachers agreed were challenging. The five state qualifiers said they each look forward to seeing how they will perform at the state level, regularly practicing their skills as the competition date approaches.

Sixth grader Jett Bryant said he and seventh grader Lyla Graham participated in robotics competitions in the past, but this was his first math competition. He enjoyed the timed sprint section most, and he said that different scenarios in the problems challenged the participants to complete their tasks. Graham expressed her feelings of surprise after she learned she was heading to state.

“Last year, the only medal I got was fifth place in the sprint round,” she said. “This year, I got third place in the sprint round and third place in the team round — but that’s only two third place medals — I never actually thought I would be going to state.”

Sixth grader Ashley Clark echoed Graham’s feelings of surprise, saying she is excited about “seeing how far I can go.” Eighth grade student Aaris Stolte said that his third consecutive competition “was less nerve-wracking” because of his past experiences, and he looks ahead to seeing how his performance compares with other math scholars throughout the Show Me State.

“I honestly think it’s fun just to see what I am — maybe I’m the 20th in the state — just see where I’m at as a state ranking, to see how good of a math person I am compared to everyone else in the state,” he said.

Seventh grader Katelynn Teigen described her reaction to moving on the state as “unbelievable,” and she said she plans to brush up on aspects of the previous test that were unfamiliar to her. Bryant stressed that the competitive and educational aspects of the state event go hand-in-hand.

“You just want to see how far you can go,” he said. “You want to see if you can make it all of the way — the farthest you can possibly go for yourself.”

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com