It’s about effort. These guys tried harder and wanted it more. I applaud them and their coaches.
While many high school math teams from around the state gathered at the 2010 Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics competition, one team had the formula for victory — again.
The math enthusiasts from Cornerstone Homeschool math team computed and calculated their way to win their division for the fourth straight year.
“The competition adds a dimension beyond a simple grade and pushes one further than they might for just a homework assignment,” said Judy Sommerfeld, Cornerstone’s coach. “It also provides an opportunity for teamwork and an affirmation of the abilities that God has given them.”
The annual event, held at the University of Illinois in May, was a culmination of the students’ efforts. The 25-member team, representing grades nine through 12, edged out others from around Illinois to secure the state title.
Sommerfeld said the Cornerstone math team has been competing at ICTM since 1996. The group originally was established to encourage and challenge home-schooled students. The interest in the team has grown considerably over the years, but the fundamentals are the same.
“There is satisfaction in watching students who at first are unsure of their abilities learn to become confident in their ability to learn and master difficult material,” Sommerfeld said. “Seeing them working together, encouraging one another, and building lasting friendships while enjoying learning, specifically math (is rewarding).”
Team member Jessica Johnson said practice sessions were a great way to improve her math skills while building friendships.
“One of the things I enjoyed most was the weekly practices where we would break up into smaller groups,” Johnson said. “We would explain and go over homework problems that we had difficulty with. It was a great way to learn a lot and to bond as a team.”
Friendships made through the organization last long after the final problem is solved. Cornerstone alumni often return to mentor students on the team. And Cindy Duranceau, assistant coach for the past six years, continues to volunteer even though her son since has graduated.
“We often have college-age students come back and volunteer their time and knowledge,” said Duranceau, whose son also has graduated. “The reason I remained coaching is because the students are wonderful to work with.”