Hillcrest launched a competitive math team after a student researched the competitions. A few meetings followed with Hillcrest’s guidance counselor, Principal Isaac, and the math department at Hillcrest. After registering for the competitions with the Minnesota State High School Leauge (MSHSL), Hillcrest ventured to their first competition, excited to see how they stacked up against the competition.

The group of seventeen students nervously took their individual test. Concepts from Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Calculus had students running fingers through hair as they focused on solving the complex problems. Hillcrest’s approach to mathematics is different than some schools, and even some of the background of their own students who transferred in this year.

Earlier in the year a handful of students commented on how difficult it was to use a pencil and paper in math class. Math classes in their former schools used computers or iPads to help chart paths on a graph and calculate large sums. One student commented on how Hillcrest’s approach is stretching him to work out sums in a sequenced pattern. Previously he was able to simply plug in numbers and formulas into a computer, but at Hillcrest he walks step-by-step through problems, learning the form and function of each sequence along the way. The approach is paying dividends for the math team.

Seven schools make up the competition field in Section 6A for the MSHSL. After completing a personal test scores are posted for teams to review. Hillcrest students crowded around the board, reviewing their standings. The hype that normally would follow a Final Four Basketball Tournament bracket in the United States transferred to the Hillcrest students around the results board. They started to plot their course to success, excited to see their names and their school in a high placing before the start of the team round.

After the team round Hillcrest found themselves leading the pack. Their scores fell ten points below the top school in the division above them. Divisions are broken down by number of students in the school. Hillcrest’s 182 person student body fared well against the next division, that boasted over 1200 students.

Hillcrest is leading Section 6A standings, having won the first meet on Nov. 6. The seventeen students returned to campus excited to begin practicing for their next meet, having scored first place with little to no formal practice prior to the competition. The first place finish reveals some of the ways Hillcrest students are striving for excellence in the classroom as they continue to build faith, develop intellect, and strengthen character at Hillcrest Academy.

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