The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 15, 2010

Grand River celebrating academic victories


Star Beacon

AUSTINBURG — On March 19, 209 students from eight of the local high schools sat down in an auditorium to take an hour long multiple choice test, and this was no ordinary one by any means. It was the 10 annual Kent  State University – Ashtabula Math Day test. The exam featured 25 challenging pre-calculus, geometry, trigonometry and algebra questions.

After taking the test, the students went to the gymnasium to socialize and have lunch, courtesy of KSU-A. This was followed by small group tours of the new Morrison Science and Medical Facility, which featured new state of the art equipment, including a human patient simulator that could replicate almost any human medical emergency. The students then returned to the auditorium where they listened to three speakers talk about education and mathematics. The award presentation marked the end of the event.

The top 10 individual placers were announced first, and each person received a T-shirt and certificate. Grand River Academy had seven of those students, three who placed in the top four. Dong Wook Lee, a senior from South  Korea, answered 18 questions correctly and was awarded first place overall. Sam Zhang, a freshman from China, placed third, and Ben Sesso, a senior from Illinois placed fourth. Gregory Howard, from Geneva, placed second overall. The other four GRA students in the top 10 were Robby O’Guinn, Tong Zhou, Nick Wang and Tianming He. Alan Keep from Pymatuning Valley and Matt Osborne from Jefferson were also in the top 10.

Lee is no stranger to coming in first. His indoor soccer team recently won their league and he is the school’s valedictorian.

“He is an excellent example of the kind of student Grand River Academy shapes,” said Alicia Field, Math Department chair at GRA, who taught Lee pre-calculus when he was a sophomore. “I see his success as a validation of our math curriculum, our teaching and the work and learning done by our students.”

The top three schools were then awarded; Grand River Academy received first place, Geneva received second and third place was awarded to Jefferson. Grand River Academy, which received first place last year, brought 20 students along to defend the trophy and title.  Out of the 20, eight were on the winning team from last year, including O’Guinn and Lee, who both placed in the top 10 last year. Thirteen of the students are underclassmen, so it certainly appears that Grand River has an excellent shot at making it a “three-peat.”

Calculus teacher and dean of students, Bill Thomas, was especially proud of the first-place finish.

“We may not be able to compete with these schools athletically because we’re small, but we can compete with them academically, which is great,” Thomas said.

“I was thrilled to learn that we received first place, and I was glad I could help contribute to the winning effort,” said senior Jeremiah Jemente.

Grand River Academy also placed first in their academic competition on Cleveland News Channel 5’s Academic Challenge. They beat out Strasburg-Franklin and Ledgemont.

“We had a great academic week,” said O’Guinn, “First the Kent State University - Ashtabula Math Day title, then the win on Academic Challenge. It can’t get any better than this.”