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Park Trails Elementary fifth grade math team and coaches: Aaron Alter, Debbie Malara, Kristin Meis, Samkit Bothra, Madison Poleo and Ava Cipolla.

By Jill Fox

Every year, students from local elementary schools meet each spring, to compete in both individual and team math competitions by the Broward County Council Teachers on Mathematics where fourth and fifth graders from approximately 90 elementary schools in the county participate.

On March 9, Park Trails Elementary School sent their two math teams to the competition which challenged them to think deeply about the content, and work together to solve problems as a team.

Principal Manville with Park Trails Elementary fourth grade math team.

After completing a series of rigorous multi-step problems, and “very complicated, complex critical thinking questions” the fourth grade team coached by Debbie Malara won third place and the fifth grade team, coached by Kristin Meis team took first place in the North Broward division.

“We were so proud of them,” said Meis. “For both our grade levels to be in the top three, when we aimed for the top ten, they were pleasantly surprised but knew their hard work had paid off.”

The students were chosen for teams by a test very similar to the individual one they would take at the competition. Both teachers chose the students with the highest ten scores, then watched how they worked together as a team to come up with the answers.

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Fourth grade team members are: Russell Wesley, Shiven Nagarajan, Lauren Lee, Alexa Gomez and Jackson Wald (alternate). Fifth grade team members are: Aaron Alter, Samkit Bothra, Madison Poleo, Ava Cipolla and Bharath Chowlur (alternate).

Park Trails Principal Manville said the competition is not about winning or losing, it’s about helping students develop the ability to problem solve and work together. These are life skills that will help students grow to become successful members of society.

“We are so proud of our ‘mathletes’ and their hard work,” said Principal Manville.

Malara is hopeful they will get an invitation to the awards ceremony on May 15, at Indian Ridge Middle School in Davie. Once the scores for the north, south and central area divisions of Broward are tallied, there will be a first, second and third prize for the team and individual competitions for each grade level, as well as district-wide awards for individual and team scores combined.

Kimberly Johnson, BCCTM competition coordinator and north area director said it’s a great opportunity for kids to compete with students from all over the county.

Johnson, a fourth grade teacher at Norcrest Elementary School in Pompano Beach started coaching 27 years ago and was the south area director for Broward for 10 years before taking on her current role. She said she continues to participate each year because she loves to watch kids who are so excited about math.

Malara said there are so many people who say they can’t do math, and they really can, so succeeding this much is a great thing for them, and for years to come, they can continue to compete.

Principal Manville said, “Watching our kids work together, cheer each other on and persevere through the challenges was amazing, and we are so proud of their accomplishments.”

Author Profile

Jill Fox
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked on the public relations side as well as the television side of marketing for NBC Universal. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Advertising from the University of Miami. During college, Fox enjoyed working at Walt Disney World. She loves living in Parkland with her husband, Brian and their two children, Madden, 10 and Randi, 7.
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