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Something is Missing? Not Anymore....

Updated: May 8

What do you do when you realize that your community is lacking in something? You bring it to the community, of course. This is exactly what Erik Wu and Nehan Sezhian, two juniors from James Clemens High School, did when they created James Clemens First Annual Middle School Math Tournament.

Having been middle school math team members themselves, they realized that they always had to travel to Birmingham to compete in math tournaments. So, Erik and Nehan approached their administrators about holding a tournament at James Clemens. They were told that they must find a teacher sponsor, and they found a willing participant in Dr. Kristin Hartland. Dr. Hartland mentioned that “the two students took it upon themselves to write all of the math questions, to organize the event, including reserving space and developing relationships with local business sponsorships.” In addition, the students invited other schools to participate, communicated with stakeholders when the event had to be rescheduled, and gathered volunteers for the event. “Our goal for this event,” according to Erick Wu, “was to have these  brilliant young mathematicians not necessarily focus on winning or awards; rather, their mindset should be that they are having fun regardless.”  

During the day of the event, there was mathematical magic in the air. Students rushed hurriedly to see their scores and to get ready for team competition. The two creators, dressed in suits and focused on ensuring that everything went well, were having as much fun as the contestants. “One of the happiest moments on the day of the tournament was during the Pi game. All the students were extremely excited and engaged, even with the audience shouting out digits from Pi as well,” stated Mr. Wu, “This was the type of enthusiasm that drew Neyan and I to math tournaments as younger children.” 

Will the middle school math tournament become a permanent fixture at James Clemens? Mr. Sezhian, co-founder, was eager to share their pride “in witnessing shared feelings of anticipation and excitement amongst the competitors; feelings that had a significant impact on our love for math since middle school.” This event is not going away anytime soon. “We hope to expand our reach next year, and to ensure the success of the tournament under future leadership, stated Mr. Sezhian. 

Thank you, Erik Wu and Nehan Sezhian, for your continued passion for mathematics and for bringing opportunity to “brilliant young mathematicians” and for inspiring them as well.


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