Mathletes & Puzzle Makers

Danny Stock

Math teams and clubs have continued to thrive throughout the year despite the virtual setting. We’ll start off with a look at two groups in the High School and close with an update from Middle School.

Math Team

The math team at the High School participated in Independent School Mathematics Association of Washington (ISMAW) competitions this fall as well as the Online Math Open (OMO), a math Olympiad for high school students. October saw the team of Avani Ahuja ’22, Jon Ergun ’22, Julie Steele ’22, Julien Berman ’22, Max Froomkin ’24, and Max Wang ’23 placing 55th out of 103 teams at the Math Majors of America Tournament for High Schools (MMATHS). 

The program schedule has picked up this spring with competitions in the American Regions Math League Power Contest—during which students worked to discover a pattern and expressed it in precise mathematical language—and the local DC ISMAW chapter. Results are not yet available for those competitions. Students also competed in the American Mathematics Competitions and a select group qualified to continue on into the American Invitational Mathematics Examination based on a top 5% score.

Finally, the strong GDS Girls in Math team placed 16th out of 52 teams at the MMATHS competition at Yale. Congratulations to Carmen Gitchell ’22, Julie Steele ’22, Madeleine Popofsky ’22, and Nora O’Connor ’22.


Julie Steele ’22 is the executive director of inteGIRLS, a group of teens who run math competitions and puzzle hunts for girls. You can find a sample puzzle at the end of this story. The organization has grown exponentially since its inception, particularly during lockdown. Julie said, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we wrote and ran our first two online puzzle hunts in June and November with around 1,600 and 600 participants respectively from around the world. In November, we also ran our first math competition with multiple locations. We onboarded around ten chapters to each run a local online math competition with around 75 competitors per chapter. We had teams in inteGIRLS writing the problems, organizing, advertising, etc. I absolutely love and am addicted to inteGIRLS—the family of people working at inteGIRLS, the leadership and math/puzzle experience, and seeing the competitors. It's been such a meaningful experience for the people who work at inteGIRLS as well as the girls we can introduce to math.”

In addition to her role as executive director, Julie is also part of the puzzle team responsible for writing puzzles and organizing puzzle competitions. Avani Ahuja ’22 is a head of the problem writing team for the math competitions. 

Middle School Math Club Update

Thanks to Middle School math club coach (and former former Lower School math teacher) Susie Loutoo for sharing this update...

The Middle School Math Club has been very active this year. While the club has had to meet virtually, average attendance has remained high. Students are motivated to hone their problem-solving skills while working with their peers. Although competitions get a lot of attention amongst the club mathletes, students who choose not to compete work equally hard and are highly commended for their efforts and achievements.

Some club members have chosen to participate in national competitions including Math Olympiad, the AMC 8 (a middle school math competition sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America) and MathCounts. About 56,000 students worldwide participated in the AMC 8 this fall. Two GDS Middle School students, Lucas ’26 and Lock ’25, placed in the Honor Roll, scoring in the top 5% of all participants.

MathCounts is a favorite competition amongst the GDS Mathletes, partly because the majority of the competition is held in person, allowing students to mingle and compete against their peers from other local schools. Unfortunately, this year, the competitions have been and will all be virtual, including the very selective National Competition held in May. On March 25, during our Spring Break, five GDS Middle School mathletes, who have excelled in the competition so far, will compete at the state level. That’s a large number of GDS students given the fact that only the top 15 students from the DC chapter are allowed to move on and compete at the state meet! The top individuals from each state will have the honor of attending a national virtual competition in May. Please join us in congratulating these five students listed in alphabetical order by first name, Alessandro ’25, Ben ’25, Lock ’25, Lucas ’26, and Nora ’25, as they move forward to the state competition.

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