Parker’s Middle School math club, the Mathletes, participated in the AMC 8 math challenge last fall, a national competition for students in grades 8 and below. More than 1,800 schools across the United States participated in the challenge, with more than 98,000 individual students competing.
Parker students excelled in the 25-question, 40-minute, multiple choice exam. All of the Mathletes who participated scored within the top 50 percent in the country. The team’s top scorer, Maxwell Spiridonov, Class of 2023, scored within the top 5 percent of students across the nation. Sree Kandhadai, Class of 2023, was the team’s second highest scorer.
The Mathletes even had a Lower Schooler participate in the challenge. Grade 3 student Ethan Ben-Yehuda was the third highest scorer from the Mathletes.
The Middle School Mathletes participate in challenges like the AMC 8 throughout the school year. Under the direction of club advisor and Middle School math teacher Garik Linnastruth, up to 30 students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 meet each week to prepare for upcoming competitions.
In addition to the AMC 8 challenge, some of the competitions the Mathletes participate in each year include Interstellar Math Madness, a national online challenge in which students compete weekly in leagues followed by a single elimination bracket tournament; MathCounts, a national competition that brings middle schoolers together for a series of in-person competitions; and Math Field Day, a local San Diego competition with more than 20 schools participating in math and STEM-related challenges.
Parker’s Mathletes don’t just meet to compete. They meet to have fun.
“What’s great about Mathletes is that it attracts all ages and ability levels,” says Garik. “We have gifted math students that score within the top percentages in the nation, and we have students who come for the laughs, puzzles, and pizza. We make sure it is a stress-free, fun, upbeat experience where students learn the beauty of mathematics and enjoy the critical thinking, reasoning, and problem-solving that accompany shapes, numbers, and real-world applications.”
We work to develop grit and perseverance in our Mathletes and create an environment where students lean into discomfort and an atmosphere where errors and mistakes are simply part of the learning process and growth toward becoming better mathematicians.Garik Linnastruth
Garik has been leading the Mathletes since he joined Parker six years ago, but the Mathletes has been a club at Parker since at least the 1980s. Since its inception, the club has created a fun and dynamic environment for students to practice, apply, and enjoy math.
“We work to develop grit and perseverance in our Mathletes and create an environment where students lean into discomfort and an atmosphere where errors and mistakes are simply part of the learning process and growth toward becoming better mathematicians,” says Garik. “To get to see the excitement from students when they get an answer correct during Math Madness or are super excited about the problems they saw during MathCounts is what keeps me doing this year after year.”