County students compete in math bowl

NEW PALESTINE — Students and parents packed the gym at Sugar Creek Elementary School on Thursday night.

More than 200 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students from six county schools donned bright team T-shirts and practiced their math skills ahead of the 22nd annual Math Academic Teams for Hoosiers competition organized by the Indiana Association of School Principals. Some 575 teams competed at 55 sites across the state Thursday, according to a news release.

Students worked together, using calculators and pen and paper to answer math questions at a sixth- and seventh-grade level of difficulty. A perfect score on the event is 32; four rounds of eight questions each were posed to the teams, which held from four to 20 students each.

Kari Shelton, Sugar Creek Elementary principal, said the school has hosted the contest for some eight years, drawing parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents into the gym to see their students show off their mathematical chops.

Sugar Creek’s two teams have been practicing intensely since the beginning of the spring semester, meeting weekly to go over skills and practice their teamwork, Shelton said.

Students sat in groups of folding chairs on the gym floor, while their families watched from the bleachers.

Andie Neindorf-Mitchell, a Sugar Creek Elementary fourth-grader, competed for the first time in the contest Thursday. Her mom, Nicole Niendorf, said the team has furthered her love for math, and her enthusiasm has grown over the school year.

“She can’t miss a practice,” she said with a laugh.

Shelton said she can’t take credit for the smooth running of the annual event.

“We’ve got a great leadership team here,” she said.

Jay Lovell, an instructional coach and Title 1 teacher at the elementary school, organizes the event yearly. The teams have been meeting twice a week to prepare for the contest, he said.

Lovell said the community plays a huge role in putting on the event every year. Teachers volunteer to make the event run smoothly, and parents and fellow students run concessions for hungry audience members.

Results of the contest statewide will be released Monday, he said. Some events were delayed until Saturday because of flooding across the state, he said.

The teams are judged by whether they had a perfect score, missed just one question or whether they had a large number of consecutive right answers, he said.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or