Counting on with Stephen O’Donnell

Stephen O’Donnell is a freshman at DHS who is in .4 Pre-Calculus. O’ Donnell takes Pre-Calculus and he is  in a class with mostly juniors. He had to prove himself to his peers, his performance on the tests helped with that.

“It is a bit intimidating at times,” O’ Donnell said. “I’m not sure they like that I am a freshman very much.”He believes many thought he would drop out of the class in a week.

“I did do a lot of studying over the summer and I got tutored then,” O’Donnell said. Currently, he does not have a tutor for school and maintains an A in his Pre-Calculus class.

To prepare for the four competitions he participated in, O’Donnell would go online and search “math competitions” and do several problems.

“Eventually, I figured out what types of problems there are and then you can figure out how to do them on the test a lot easier because you have experience,” O’Donnell said. “You know this is how you do it rather than ‘Oh no I am lost’ which is how most people feel.”

He participated in four math contests and competitions. They included MML, SVSU Math Olympics, MMPC, and AMC 12.

O’ Donnel took the AMC 12 on Feb. 2, 2016 in the DHS Cafeteria. The test focused on pre-calculus. A competitor receives six points for every answer he or she has correct, one and a half points for every omitted answer and no points for an incorrect answer. The maximum score for the test is 150 points. O’Donnell scored a 91.5 and was recognized for being the student at DHS who did the best.

MML  (Michigan Mathematics League) is a series of six monthly examinations for students in Michigan, Nov. 2015 to April 2016, that were taken by O’Donnell in Mr. Murray’s room either before school (the November and December examinations) or after seventh hour (the January, February, March and April examinations). The scores from all six tests would be added up for a total, the highest score possible is a 36. O’Donnell’s tests added up to a 36, setting him at 19th place. He had the highest score from everyone who took it at DHS.

The third competition O’Donnell participated in was the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition. He took the test on Feb. 2, 2016 during first and second hour and if those who took it scored a 17 or above they would be invited to take a second part of the test. O’Donnell scored a 23.

The second part of MMPC was on December 9, 2015. This took place again during first and second hour. The questions were graded by a professional and they would rate it between a one and a ten. The competitors scores from part one and part two are added.

“The top 100 competitors are allowed to attend a banquet held by Eastern Michigan University, the sponsor of this test, and the top 50 receive scholarships,” O’Donnell said. “I attended this banquet on March 12, 2016, and while there, discovered that I had ranked 67th out of all those who had taken the test.”

He also competed in the SVSU Math Olympics on April 8, 2016.  The maximum score was a 25 and O’Donnell scored a 16. This set him at second place, tying with three other DHS students.

O’Donnell’s parents have had a strong influence on him from the very start and have encouraged him to succeed in math. Out of all of the subjects in school, math is O’Donnell’s preferred subject.

His performance on the tests helped his position in the classroom. Currently, he does not have a tutor for math and maintains an A. Although O’Donnell has been tutored, he has a natural understanding of math.

“I know that a lot of people struggle so I guess I feel grateful that I don’t,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell is taking AP Calculus next year. As of now, he does not plan on majoring in math but his career will most likely involve mathematics, where his skills can be applied. He thinks that his knowledge and math abilities will benefit him on standardized tests.

By: Hadley Morden

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