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It all adds up for DLHS math students

SEVEN STUDENTS FROM DETROIT LAKES placed at the Northern Minnesota Mathematics Contest this year including (from left) Drake Halver (junior), Cade Benson (9th), Josh Weber (10th) Kylee Ewards (10th), Nathan Bausman (senior), Devin Lange (senior) and Stephen Sinclair (senior).

The Detroit Lakes math department is adding up its wins at a recent math contest.

Seven students at DLHS took away awards after participating in the 39th annual Northern Minnesota Mathematics Contest at Bemidji State University Oct. 25.

Sixty-eight Detroit Lakes students participated in the event, with the top three in each grade forming "the team."

The ninth and tenth grade team scored eighth out of 25 teams, while the junior and senior team was even more impressive -- taking second only to Bemidji.

But individually is where some of the students really shined.

Out of 323 students, Detroit Lakes senior Stephen Sinclair took third.

He says he's now considering becoming a mathematics professor, and may be applying to MIT.

With a 36 out of 36 on his ATC's in the math section, he may not be too far off, and he says it's all because of the accelerated math programs in his school.

"For math tournaments and math league it's the challenge; when you get the problems you haven't seen before it forces you to look at it in a different way," said Sinclair, "and so when you solve it, it's kind of fulfilling."

Sinclair began excelling at math when he became involved in Roosevelt's Math Masters in the fifth grade -- that's when he met his good buddy, senior Devin Lange, a Rossman participant.

"I knew I was pretty good in math back then, but when I went to a competition, I got sixth place out of a few hundred, so I was pretty pumped," said Lange, who is now thinking about going into engineering.

In fact, Math Masters seemed to be where all these student started.

"I think I more happened to be good at it, and we got a free pizza party," laughed senior Nathan Bausman, "but now I'm going to have a career in math because I'm going into engineering."

Math instructor Lisa Conzemius, says students are tested in math in the eighth grade, and based mostly on those scores, the students have the option of being placed in an accelerated program.

"So freshmen take algebra 2, which is what juniors usually take. Sophomores take advanced geometry, and as juniors they take advanced pre-calculus, and they earn college credit for college algebra and college pre-calculus. Then their senior year they take calculus," said Conzemius, "so they can walk out of here with quite a few college credits.

That's exactly what junior Drake Halver did, and ended up taking eighth out of 323 of Minnesota's best math students.

"Show me an equation and I kind of know about it without having seen it before, but other things will screw me up," said Halver, "Like in chemistry, I'm the best with numbers, but I'm not good with the names and symbols for them, so it's all about finding what you're good at."

Conzemius says although math can be intimidating to many people, nobody should think they can't be good at it.

"I think I can reach any kid. You have to find the right door to open or the right key to use or the right way to approach it -- some kids don't like math, but I we can get them to learn it," said Conzemius.