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Chilliwack students excel at math meet

Sardis secondary's math teacher doesn't hold back when he boasts about his students' performance in the University of Waterloo's Cayley Contest.

"We kicked Yale's butt," teacher Bruno Chirico said.

In fact, the school kicked the butt's of every other team in the Fraser Valley zone.

Sardis secondary ranked first in the internationally renowned math contest  with a score of 388.

Yale secondary in Abbotsford, which usually holds bragging rights for such math contests, placed third with a score of 371 – 17 points less than Sardis.

"It's always nice to beat Yale," said Chirico, a proud smile glued to his face. "And it's nice to see Chilliwack on top."

The Cayley Contest is a Grade 10 math contest put on by the University of Waterloo that stretches the minds of young mathematicians beyond what's taught in the school curriculum.

Most of the questions asked are real world problem solvers.

"I wanted a challenge," said student Sean Choi. "It's different from school curriculum math, it involves critical thinking and has more depth."

Added Samir Rehmtulla: "It feels good when you can solve these kinds of puzzles, rather than just flat out math.

"Curriculum math is not always easy, but it is somewhat dull. This provides an outlet for some more intriguing puzzles."

Sardis had five students competing, all with exemplary scores. In fact, Rehmtulla was the top student for the zone with a score of 138. Brothers Sean Choi and Ryan Choi weren't far behind with scores of 126 and 124 respectively.

"We like to compete against each other, and brag about our scores," said Sean.

"It's always part of the motivation to try and beat each other," said Rehmtulla.

Preparing for these contests is not always easy. They're volunteer-based contests, so students must find their own time to review past tests and work on different problems. The Chois and Rehmtulla estimate they studied for about a month in preparation – on top of homework responsibilities, track and field, tennis, and drumline.

"There's always time for priorities," said Sean.

While some might think these students crazy for adding to their school workload, Chirico calls them smart – and not just for their grades.

Competing in these math contests, which are university recognized, is giving these students a leg up for when they start applying to universities and for scholarships.

"If they want a career in math or science, this looks great on their resume," said Chirico.

More than 1,400 schools wrote the Cayley Contest, 58,685 students.

Other Chilliwack schools included G.W. Graham, ranked sixth, and Highroad Academy, ranked 10th.

kbartel@theprogress.com

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