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.”

Features

  • Academics
  • Around School
  • Features
  • middle school
  • Student Life
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.”

Features

Explore Our News & Stories

photo of Brandel Tanis

Freyja Brandel-Tanis '14 has been named a 2022-2023 Fulbright Scholar. Brandel-Tanis will graduate from Georgia Tech with a master's in city and regional planning and MS in civil engineering this spring.

She has been awarded a Fulbright research award at NTNU in Trondheim, Norway and will be conducting stakeholder focus groups on the role of digital twins in sustainable transportation modeling. Her work will be an early stage in long-term research at NTNU to ensure the complexity of transportation systems is considered in future digital twins.

(Digital twins have established use in manufacturing and rocketry to virtually replicate physical environments and test potential scenarios, and some modelers and officials see their potential to improve on current transportation modeling technologies.)

Outside of her research, Brandel-Tanis is planning to engage with local queer organizations and ride her bike as well as exploring the Trondheim's public transit system. After her Fulbright, she plans to return to the US and work as a city planner/civil engineer before eventually pursuing a PhD.

  • Alumni
Fourth grade student at middle school

It's middle school Project Week, which means it's 4@45 where fourth grade students get the full middle school experience at 45 N. Dearborn!
Students got a locker for the week. They got to meet fifth grade teachers. Fifth graders gave them a tour of the middle school. And they get to have their classes in the middle school building this week. 

Students were greeted by fifth grade buddies, who gave them tips on opening lockers followed by special tours of the Middle and Upper Schools. The fourth graders followed their usual schedule but they also were introduced to the fifth grade teachers and had a special RoundTable class with the middle school counselor. They loved walking independently through the buildings. The highlight was always the lunchtime choices!

Check out some photos!

Around School

  • Academics
  • Around School
  • lower school
Wooden Roman head

Lower School Computer Science and Tech Integration Specialist Fiona Deeney, Middle School Technology Coordinator Mike Demopoulos and Upper School Innovation Studio Manager Shane Enderle offered an inside look at Latin's maker spaces for parents/guardians.

Maker Space Teachers

At the start of the event, the team shared information about each division's maker space and projects created in them. Then they gave a tour of the upper school maker space to show some of the equipment and supplies students can access in all three divisions.

Upper School

EQUIPMENT
3D Printers
Vinyl Cutters
Laser Cutter
CNC Router
Soldering Irons and accessories
iPad Pro’s with Apple Pencils
VR Headset

SOFTWARE
Adobe Suite
Illustrator
Photoshop
In Design
Fusion 360
Sketchbook Pro
Procreate
Silhouette Studio
Mint Studio

Middle School

EQUIPMENT
3D Printer (x3)
Vinyl Cutter (x2)
Laser Cutter
CNC Router
MacBook Air (x2)

SOFTWARE
PrusaSlicer
Silhouette Studio
Mint Studio
iMovie

Lower School

EQUIPMENT
3D Printers
Vinyl Cutter
Laser Cutter
Digital Embroidery Machine
Sewing Machines 
LittleBits Pro Library and STEAM Kits

SOFTWARE
Doodle 3D
TurtleStitch
Silhouette Studio
Mint Studio
Drawing Pad

Afterward, parents/guardians got the opportunity to laser engrave on a pre-cut wood roman head. They also visited stations to make leather key chains, play with Little Bits electronics from the lower school, see embroidery and sewing machines in action, and a few physical projects that students have created.

The maker spaces at Latin aid students with designing and problem-solving, as well as develop skills, talents, thinking and mental rigor.

Academics

  • Academics
  • Around School
  • lower school
  • middle school
  • upper school
upper school students on project week

After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, upper school project week is back! Students chose to spend the week on one of the 25 in-town projects or 11 out-of-town projects.

The in-town offerings included:

  • Ad-RAP-tation: the Latin School and Q Brothers' Collective
  • Art and Anatomy
  • Chicago: Walking, Food, and Art
  • Code Your Own 2D Games and Build a Mini Arcade Cabinet
  • Curling in Chicago
  • Cycle Chicago: Riding & Wrenching
  • Dancing with culture
  • Design a Chicago Bike Tour
  • El mundo Latino in Chicago: An Exploration of Chicago's Latinx Community  
  • Exploring Chicago’s Queer History
  • Find Your Inner Chef
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Just for Kicks
  • Make Your Escape (Room)
  • Making Music
  • PADI Scuba Diving Certification and Training
  • Sports Marketing: A Strategic Perspective
  • Survivor
  • Theatre in Chicago
  • The Greatest City in the World Chicago Gospel
  • Treemendous Forest Preserves 
  • Urban Agriculture
  • Wellness: Mind & Body
  • What Makes a Neighborhood?: Art, Advocacy, and Food
  • Yarn Bombing

The out-of-town offerings included:

  • Canyoneering & Rock Climbing Adventure
  • Civil Rights Trail 2022
  • Coral Reef Experience in Florida Keys
  • Cycling Through the Sonoran Desert
  • Detroit: Invention and Reinvention in a Great American City
  • Exploring the Pacific: Oceanography of Southern California
  • Latin Iditarod: Dogsledding
  • Mountain Biking in Moab
  • The Ancestral Heritage of The Land of Enchantment
  • The Raw & The Cooked: A Literary Feast in Michigan
  • There is No Business Like Show Business!: LA TV & Film

Check out more photos and videos from our PWeek take over on Latin's Instagram @latinschoolofchicago at #latinpweek.

Around School

  • Around School
  • Community & Traditions
  • upper school