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Math Olympiad Grows Exponentially in Harrison

Sometimes the adventure is in the journey not necessarily the destination. In August, the Lottery team made a long trek from Boise to Harrison, on the southeast shore of Lake Coeur d’Alene for a special, back-to-school Classroom Wishlist delivery. Travels begin exiting I-90 and winding along the southern shore of the lake for 33 miles with dramatic views of the lake on one side and the forest on the other.

About seven miles from the lake shore in Harrison on some rolling farmland that is tucked against the backdrop of the Coeur d’Alene National Forest sits the Kootenai Schools complex for Harrison, the Junior High facility squarely next to Harrison Elementary and directly below the newest neighbor – the high school.

The original building was constructed in the 1950s and serves as classroom facilities for middle school and high school students, based on the teacher and subject matter. This is the building where math teacher, Mary Nelson’s, classroom is located.

“I am the only math teacher in the Junior High, but I teach both Junior High and High School math,” explains Kootenai Jr./Sr. High teacher Mary Nelson. “We wear many hats here.”

To help her students learn and understand math concepts, Mary has had her Junior High students competing throughout the year in the Math Olympiads for Elementary and Middle School students. Last year, they competed in five competitions. Four of her students earned the top score with a fifth earning honorable mention. In total, she had 35 students competing.

“This curriculum is real problem solving. And there’s something rewarding when you see the math concepts click and the students really get it,” explained Mary. “As students have success with the Math Olympiad, other students want to join and be a part of it. It’s growing exponentially.”

The journey for Mary doesn’t stop with her students’ success. “I am hopeful that we can get enough competitions with other northwest schools, in Oregon, Washington, here in Idaho, that our students can actually attend one in person or we could host one ourselves right here in Harrison!” Mary said of her future plans for the development of the program.

The Lottery provided this year’s registration fees, contest problems book sets, pencils, and notebooks for the well deserving students.

“It’s exciting to see where $500 in curriculum and program supplies can take students on their math journey,” added Mary. “Thank you for this classroom wishlist!”