A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

The deafening roar of students wildly cheering for their school. A fierce competition with confident displays of skill and mastery. Teammates huddled up, strategizing to achieve victory. Is it a Latin basketball or soccer tournament?

No! This is the annual middle school math competition, which celebrated its 20th year in January. Latin took over hosting duties from another school in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since. This half-day competition pits middle school students from nearly 20 schools in both individual and team contests. Each school can bring two teams of four people for each grade (fifth through eighth). The Saturday morning contest begins with a 50-minute individual round of nine questions. After a short break, the 45-minute team test begins, with students working together to answer eight questions. After a pizza lunch where the students kibbutz about the correct answers — and sometimes slap their foreheads when they realize their mistakes — everyone assembles in the theater for the awards ceremony, where medals, trophies, and plaques are presented.

Mathletes image 1

The event is the culmination of months of work by many people. “The administration certainly supports it in any way it can,” said Warren Hawley, a former math teacher and department chair at Latin, now retired, who spearheaded efforts in 2000 for Latin to host the competition. “There is total buy-in from the math department. They really see the value of it.”

Planning gets underway in November, when the math teachers attend a math retreat where they spend the entire day writing the individual test questions for each grade. “The process is very inter-divisionary,” said Eve Bonneau, middle school Math Department chair. “For example, the team working on the fifth grade contest may consist of teachers from all three divisions.” Bonneau said that each question needs to be grade-appropriate and sufficiently challenging for the students. The teachers write the problems in the morning, then spend the afternoon collaboratively solving and refining the problems, and tinkering with the language.

Even before the math retreat, Tom Canright, a seventh grade math teacher, writes the team questions during summer break, a task he took on in 2013 when Hawley retired. “It takes me about four or five hours a day for a full week to write those,” said Canright. “Then I send them to each grade’s math team for feedback. They have a month to critique the questions. Sometimes they fine tune them, but sometimes they don’t like what I’ve done and they throw out a question and substitute their own.” Canright also puts together an opening video with a medley of songs with math as a theme, proofreads all the questions during winter break, creates an answer key, runs the grading room and serves as master of ceremonies during the awards ceremony. Bonneau handles registration, classroom testing assignments, coordinates day-of-contest responsibilities for the math faculty, and obtains volunteer scorers and proctors.

Mathletes image 2

Students from Latin are selected based upon a number of factors. From November to March, students can participate
in Math Olympiad, where they take a monthly Olympiad test. Each teacher also gives a qualifying test. In addition, teachers look at student’s attendance during the weekly Math Club that meets for a half hour before school on Wednesday mornings. Bonneau and Canright select the sixth and seventh graders, respectively, based on a cumulative assessment of Olympiad test scores, Math Club attendance and qualifying test results, while Daley Chan, lower school math teacher, and Jessie Shorr, middle school math teacher, select the fifth and eighth graders, respectively.

The competition has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2000 when it hosted six other schools and used 10 classrooms to administer the contest. With the building of the middle school in 2007, Latin can now physically host more students. Since then, the event has filled to capacity and has a waiting list of 10 to 12 schools. “We’ve also had to up our game to make the questions more difficult,” said Bonneau, explaining that many more students do math as an extracurricular than in years past.

“The caliber of students has improved.” Canright agrees. “Every year I think the eighth grade questions are too hard, and every year the students rise to the occasion. Some students get perfect or near-perfect scores.”

What has made the math competition successful for so many years? Canright thinks the team component sets it apart.
“The team event makes it special. It’s unique to have teams from each grade rather than just the top eighth graders,” he said. “And the students have to learn to cooperate and learn to be quiet. They can’t just blurt out the answer, or the other teams will hear.”

Mathletes image 3

Bonneau likes that the competition is something that focuses on academics rather than athletics, which is readily and easily celebrated in most schools. “This gives an opportunity for students who enjoy math to experience an adrenaline rush,” she said. “It is really fun to see the kids get excited about an academic subject.”

Latin had one of its most successful outcomes for this year’s competition. With 275 students competing, Latin took first place in the fifth and sixth grade divisions. Bonneau was particularly pleased, especially given that many of the students who compete are from academically rigorous schools. “Most kids at Latin have a variety of interests. Our success this year shows that we can be successful in this type of competition as well,” she said.

Hawley still attends the event every year but now as a spectator. “It is amazing to see how it all comes together,” he said. “The teachers make it look seamless, but I know how much work goes into putting it together.”

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Mathletes Compete at Latin

The deafening roar of students wildly cheering for their school. A fierce competition with confident displays of skill and mastery. Teammates huddled up, strategizing to achieve victory. Is it a Latin basketball or soccer tournament?

No! This is the annual middle school math competition, which celebrated its 20th year in January. Latin took over hosting duties from another school in 2000 and hasn’t looked back since. This half-day competition pits middle school students from nearly 20 schools in both individual and team contests. Each school can bring two teams of four people for each grade (fifth through eighth). The Saturday morning contest begins with a 50-minute individual round of nine questions. After a short break, the 45-minute team test begins, with students working together to answer eight questions. After a pizza lunch where the students kibbutz about the correct answers — and sometimes slap their foreheads when they realize their mistakes — everyone assembles in the theater for the awards ceremony, where medals, trophies, and plaques are presented.

Mathletes image 1

The event is the culmination of months of work by many people. “The administration certainly supports it in any way it can,” said Warren Hawley, a former math teacher and department chair at Latin, now retired, who spearheaded efforts in 2000 for Latin to host the competition. “There is total buy-in from the math department. They really see the value of it.”

Planning gets underway in November, when the math teachers attend a math retreat where they spend the entire day writing the individual test questions for each grade. “The process is very inter-divisionary,” said Eve Bonneau, middle school Math Department chair. “For example, the team working on the fifth grade contest may consist of teachers from all three divisions.” Bonneau said that each question needs to be grade-appropriate and sufficiently challenging for the students. The teachers write the problems in the morning, then spend the afternoon collaboratively solving and refining the problems, and tinkering with the language.

Even before the math retreat, Tom Canright, a seventh grade math teacher, writes the team questions during summer break, a task he took on in 2013 when Hawley retired. “It takes me about four or five hours a day for a full week to write those,” said Canright. “Then I send them to each grade’s math team for feedback. They have a month to critique the questions. Sometimes they fine tune them, but sometimes they don’t like what I’ve done and they throw out a question and substitute their own.” Canright also puts together an opening video with a medley of songs with math as a theme, proofreads all the questions during winter break, creates an answer key, runs the grading room and serves as master of ceremonies during the awards ceremony. Bonneau handles registration, classroom testing assignments, coordinates day-of-contest responsibilities for the math faculty, and obtains volunteer scorers and proctors.

Mathletes image 2

Students from Latin are selected based upon a number of factors. From November to March, students can participate
in Math Olympiad, where they take a monthly Olympiad test. Each teacher also gives a qualifying test. In addition, teachers look at student’s attendance during the weekly Math Club that meets for a half hour before school on Wednesday mornings. Bonneau and Canright select the sixth and seventh graders, respectively, based on a cumulative assessment of Olympiad test scores, Math Club attendance and qualifying test results, while Daley Chan, lower school math teacher, and Jessie Shorr, middle school math teacher, select the fifth and eighth graders, respectively.

The competition has evolved from its humble beginnings in 2000 when it hosted six other schools and used 10 classrooms to administer the contest. With the building of the middle school in 2007, Latin can now physically host more students. Since then, the event has filled to capacity and has a waiting list of 10 to 12 schools. “We’ve also had to up our game to make the questions more difficult,” said Bonneau, explaining that many more students do math as an extracurricular than in years past.

“The caliber of students has improved.” Canright agrees. “Every year I think the eighth grade questions are too hard, and every year the students rise to the occasion. Some students get perfect or near-perfect scores.”

What has made the math competition successful for so many years? Canright thinks the team component sets it apart.
“The team event makes it special. It’s unique to have teams from each grade rather than just the top eighth graders,” he said. “And the students have to learn to cooperate and learn to be quiet. They can’t just blurt out the answer, or the other teams will hear.”

Mathletes image 3

Bonneau likes that the competition is something that focuses on academics rather than athletics, which is readily and easily celebrated in most schools. “This gives an opportunity for students who enjoy math to experience an adrenaline rush,” she said. “It is really fun to see the kids get excited about an academic subject.”

Latin had one of its most successful outcomes for this year’s competition. With 275 students competing, Latin took first place in the fifth and sixth grade divisions. Bonneau was particularly pleased, especially given that many of the students who compete are from academically rigorous schools. “Most kids at Latin have a variety of interests. Our success this year shows that we can be successful in this type of competition as well,” she said.

Hawley still attends the event every year but now as a spectator. “It is amazing to see how it all comes together,” he said. “The teachers make it look seamless, but I know how much work goes into putting it together.”

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Fourth grader's poem on social issues

One of the fourth grade classrooms passionately discussed social issues and the impact they have on our world. These lessons stemmed from their yearlong unpacking of identities and coming together as a classroom community. 

In the spring, fourth graders participated in the opinion writing unit, which focuses on understanding how to take a stand, set a clear thesis statement, give supporting reasons, and back up their thinking with evidence.

The first project in this unit was for students to create social issues acrostic poems, where certain letters in each line spell out a word or phrase. This assignment helped students to think about issues going on in their world. They generated their own list and discussed what each issue means and means to them.

Fourth grade's list of important social issues

A list of important social issues generated by a fourth grade classroom with the help of fourth grade teacher Amanda Schirmacher, assistant teacher Ada Tan and support staff teacher Endia Moore.

These conversations were also supplemented with books as well. The issues they chose for their poems were ones that they felt strongly about in this moment–many about animals, as the 9- and 10-year-old brains adore their animals!

Students were pleased to show off their work to a very special visitor, Head of School Randall Dunn, during their classroom gallery walk.

Randall Dunn at fourth grade gallery walk

Head of School Randall Dunn visits the fourth grade's gallery walk.

Then the students dove deeper into the social issues and identified one that they care deeply about, researched the issues, and then wrote a five-paragraph essay on the issue. 

To view more of the students' acrostic poems, browse the photo gallery below.


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National Association of Independent Schools logo

Congratulations to Head of School Randall Dunn for being named Chair of the Board of Trustees of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)--a nonprofit membership association that provides services to more than 1,900 schools and associations of schools in the United States and abroad, including more than 1,600 independent private K-12 schools in the U.S.

This appointment follows Randall’s three years of service in the role of Vice Chair and will be a continuation of his nine years of service on the board so far. As Chair, Randall will assume We all take away more than we give. NAIS and the experience on the board allows us to lead and enhance our own schools with a greater perspective and to serve as ambassadors for the value and relevance of independent schools as whole.
Randall Dunn, Head of School at Latin School of Chicago and Board Chair of NAIS
oversight of the board as they collaborate closely with Donna Orem, president of NAIS to forward the vision and mission of the organization, which is to “...co-create the future of education by uniting and empowering our community through thought leadership, research, creation and curation of resources, and direct collaboration with education leaders.”

Randall views this volunteer role as an important learning opportunity for him--and the other trustees. “We all take away more than we give. NAIS and the experience on the board allows us to lead and enhance our own schools with a greater perspective and to serve as ambassadors for the value and relevance of independent schools as whole.” 

In addition, Randall’s leadership role keeps Latin at the forefront of the most important information and trends impacting our students.  

Read more about Randall's appointment in an article published by The Forum, Latin's student-run news publication.

Congratulations, Randall! 

See the full NAIS Board here.  

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Middle school student and a teacher at Origami Club

Middle school students participated in in-person clubs for the first time this year–and they had a blast! With the gorgeous spring weather, the students even got outside for knitting club. Check out the knitting club and origami club!

 
 
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Upper school student athletes on Signing Day

We are so proud of our student-athletes who have committed to playing a sport in college next year!

Eli A. will be playing baseball at Denison University; Peter B. will be running cross country and track at Kenyon College; Molly C. will be on the equestrian team Baylor University; Colin C. will be playing soccer at Wesleyan University; and Blake D. playing golf and ice hockey at The University of Tampa.

Cole F. will be playing soccer and track at Oberlin College; Sujan G. will be playing tennis at Bowdoin University; Anees G. will be playing tennis at New York University; Natalie M. will be playing basketball at Johns Hopkins University; Marianne M. will be running track at Harvard University; Charlie M. will be rowing at Loyola Marymount University; and Bea P. will be running cross country and track at Middlebury College.

Noah R. will be running track at Lewis and Clark College; Ashley R. will be swimming at Carleton College; Matthew S. will be playing baseball at Bates College; Olivia S. will be running cross country and track at The George Washington University; and Ava T. will be playing volleyball at The University of Arizona. Congratulations to our student-athletes!

Go Romans!

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