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Ruch math team excels

Ruch School’s middle school team will compete in a statewide Math Counts competition Saturday after winning the Rogue Valley championship Feb. 26 for the second time since 2009.

“The kids work very hard at it,” said teacher Scott Stemple.

“These are very difficult questions well beyond what you would expect middle school students to be able to solve,” Stemple said. “This group started working a year ago.”

The school of 175 students defeated vastly larger middle schools such as Ashland, Hedrick, McLoughlin and Scenic. The Rogue Valley Math Counts chapter includes an area from Roseburg to Ashland. About 60 of Ruch’s 175 pupils are in the seventh and eighth grades. Ruch is the only K-8 campus in the Medford School District due to its rural location in the Applegate Valley.

The advanced students take Algebra I in the seventh grade and geometry in the eighth grade, Stemple said.

“We take math pretty seriously out here, and we do a lot of it,” Stemple said. “We accelerate the kids, the ones that can, starting in the sixth grade. I have six kids taking geometry. Those six kids will enter Honors Algebra II when they go to South (Medford High School).”

On Saturday, the top four on the Ruch team go to Oregon State University in Corvallis for the state championship and will compete against nearly 20 schools. They include eighth-graders Jamie DeMaria, who finished first overall as an individual in the Rogue Valley competition, Lela Stemple, Timothy McPherson and Oshauna Schattler.

Math Counts is a national enrichment program for middle school students. Schools may choose to either participate as clubs or as teams that compete in math competitions.

Participants advance through school, chapter and state competitions until the final 224 students are selected from 56 states and territories to compete in the national competition held each May.

On the Web: mathcounts.org.

— Paris Achen