Doing the math pays off big!
Ecole St. Joseph students take top marks in math competition

Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services

Yellowknife ( Jun 02/00) - Apparently, now that the results are in Ecole St. Joseph school has a flare for mathematics.

While math may not be the most favourite of subjects for most children, students at Ecole St. Joseph don't seem to mind it much at all.

The local school took top honours for the Northwest Territories this year for grades 6, 7 and 8 in the National Math League competition held last February.

"The students who have won this are not necessarily A-plus students, they are just good at problem solving," explains Merril Dean, assistant principal at the school.

"Which is interesting because it's (the competition) more closely related to the new math program (Western Canadian Math Program) that came out two years ago.

"It takes more creative thinking. Before, students learned math through rote but today they are being asked to actually understand what they are solving."

Every year, elementary and junior high school students across Canada take part in the competition. Even though NWT schools, Dean admits, are hard-pressed to procure a better average overall to math powerhouses like Ontario or British Columbia, she says that Ecole St. Joseph's results this year are at a competitive level with other schools in most provinces. It's merely a matter of population and number of schools.

"I'm quite pleased how we've done," says Dean.

"We would've placed (within the top 10) in six or seven of the provinces.

"People would've said, 'Big deal, you've won the territories,' but the fact is we would've placed in a number of provinces despite their larger populations."

For Grade 8 student Erik Chan -- who tied for top marks with another Ecole St. Joseph student -- a little friendly competition proved to be his main inspiration for performing so well on the test.

"We just wrote it and it turned out to be really good marks," Chan says.

"I just wanted to beat my friend."