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Mrinal Joshi, back and second from left, peers through several trophies that Journey Middle School’s Math Team won at the Vestavia Hills High School Math Tournament. Accompanying Joshi, Journey Math Team members hold their individual awards. Joshi is Mathematics Department Head at Journey and sponsors Math Team. CONTRIBUTED

Journey Math Team jolts to premiere honors

MADISON – Math Team members at Journey Middle School wasted no time to set a precedent for excellence on their campus with their first two tournaments.

Journey competed in recent tournaments at Muscle Shoals and Vestavia Hills high schools.

At the Muscle Shoals competition, team sponsor Mrinal Joshi was “blown away by how hard my students worked to win big. I am SUPER proud of my team.” Joshi is Mathematics Department Head at Journey and holds the STEM Teaching National Certificate.

“We’ve made history by our big win at Muscle Shoals, and every Journey Jaguar is so proud of our team. We needed more hands to carry our trophies,” Joshi said.

At Muscle Shoals, Journey won 14 individual awards and a team award for each grade level:

* Team awards — For team trophies, officials take the top four scores for written test and ciphering. Place wins were: sixth grade, second place; seventh grade, first place; and eighth grade, third place.

* Individual awards – Awarded to top 10 students overall per grade level. Sixth grade: Ivy Zhang, second; Wylie Savage, fifth; Tony Hughes, seventh; Rohan Sahoo, eighth; and Marlon Ross, ninth. Seventh grade: Aryana Baria, first; Austin Zhu, second; Valen Bell, fifth; Charvisri Donthala, seventh; Timothy McKee, eighth; and Grace Mehta, ninth. Eighth grade: Sophia Jerez, fourth; Riley Medders, sixth; and Cole Pieratt, tenth.

Math Team is a fast-paced, competition-team class with much higher than grade-level teaching.

“We ask those students to join who have a mathematically strong foundation, are self-motivated to learn and compete, and take full responsibility for their own learning. I always tell my math team members that I can’t do it alone . . . we have to work together to succeed. That’s why it is called a ‘math TEAM,’” Joshi said.

Journey’s seventh-grade team includes Aryana Baria, Brody Barlow, Valen Bell, Charvisri Donthala, Timothy McKee, Grace Mehta, Camden Moultrie and Austin Zhu.

Journey’s sixth-grade team includes Noah Diallo, Neil Dube, IkeOluwanimi Farounbi, Devansh Goyal, Rachel Harris, Caden Howard, Antonio Hughes, Michael Leaney, Victor Okinbaloye, Marlon Ross Jr., Rohan Sahoo, Wylie Savage and Ivy Zhang.

A math team’s “ultimate objective is to build a love and passion for math amongst students. I encourage students to become mathematical problem-solvers, reason mathematically, value math’s importance, communicate mathematically and become confident in their own mathematical abilities,” Joshi said.

Each competition has two parts – a written test and ciphering. The written test has 25 multiple-choice problems with three or four additional short answer problems for tiebreakers. Students earn four points for each correct answer but lose one point for each incorrect answer, she said. All students that attend the competition will take the written test.

During ciphering, students must answer questions as quickly as possible. Ciphering varies by competition; usually, only four students cipher from each school/grade-level. “The quicker the student answers the question, the more points his/her team receives. At the last competition, all students ciphered,” Joshi said.

At Vestavia Hills with 1,100-plus students from 16 schools, 23 Journey students felt “super proud” of their performance. “Vestavia is a tough test and tough competition. Students were super excited about coming in first (place),” Joshi said.

“I absolutely love the thrill of competitions and have a passion for teaching math team. I’ve always liked working higher math and that’s where my calling is. When you teach what you are passionate about, the learning for students is greatly accomplished,” Joshi said.

“I’m so proud and happy that my sixth- and seventh-grade teams did an outstanding job at Vestavia Hills . . . one of the hardest competitions with very difficult questions,” Joshi said.

Journey compiled impressive results at Vestavia Hills:

* Team awards: Place wins went to seventh grade, first; and sixth grade, third place.

* Individual awards: Awarded to top 10 students overall per grade level. Journey seventh-graders competed against 89 students: Austin Zhu, first; Aryana Baria, second; Charvisri Donthala, sixth; Grace Mehta, eighth; and Timothy McKee, tenth. Sixth-graders competed against 95 students: Neil Dube, sixth; Wylie Savage, ninth; Ivy Zhang, tenth; and Rachel Harris, eleventh.

“Parent volunteers worked hard at home to make sure students practiced the material we were learning in school,” Joshi said. “Parents were also responsible for transporting their children to competition. We have a great and supportive group of math team parents.”

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