WALKER -- For four intense minutes, 51 third-graders put their knowledge of math to the test — literally.
That was all the time they had to solve 144 multiplication problems, which they’d spent the year practicing in preparation for the Fifth Annual MATHlete Competition presented by the Kiwanis Clubs of Denham Springs and Walker.
Once the results were in, it was clear — these were some smart kids.
“We may have to adjust the time because these kids are getting too good,” joked Denham Springs Kiwanis Club member Clint Carver.
He wasn’t lying.
Students from 17 elementary schools across Denham Springs, Watson and Walker gathered at the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center for the annual math competition on Tuesday, April 16.
Participating schools entered their top three contestants from in-school competitions held throughout the year. Every student was awarded a medal, while trophies went to the top five finishers.
Leading the pack was Eastside Elementary’s Andy Nguyen, who was the first student to complete the test. He finished ahead of Andrew Aguillard from North Corbin Elementary (second), Landon Nguyen from Juban Parc Elementary (third), Marlon Ramos from North Live Oak Elementary (fourth), and Bruce Billings from South Walker Elementary (fifth).
Along with a trophy, the top five received gift cards ranging from $25-$100.
Ludrick Hidalgo, a 10-year member of the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club, is the person credited with starting the competition. He described it as a way for the club to fulfill its mission of “giving back to children” — albeit in a different way that could benefit them years down the road.
“Kiwanis is about helping children,” he said, “and this math competition helps them in ways that they don’t even realize right now but will later on.”
Students met in the LPLTC auditorium Tuesday morning with their parents and teachers before being led to the testing room. Once there, they spent the next four minutes in total silence as they searched their brains for the right answers to the multiplication equations.
After the competition, Kiwanis Club members agreed on one point: The students have gotten smarter with each passing year.
During the first year of the competition, only one student finished the test in the four-minute time frame. When Walker schools joined the party last year, six students managed to finish the test.
But this year? Fifteen, and others came close.
“You think you showed up for a little math competition, but these kids take this seriously,” Carver said. “They bring the intensity to academia.”
The following students represented their schools in the competition:
Denham Springs Elementary
Harlie Jo Kahanu-Schexnayder
Gray’s Creek Elementary
Juban Parc Elementary
Lewis Vincent Elementary
Live Oak Elementary
North Corbin Elementary
North Live Oak Elementary
Seventh Ward Elementary
Chlea Bellony Ho A Sim
South Fork Elementary
South Live Oak Elementary
South Walker Elementary