NEWTON GROVE — While wearing medals around their necks, a group of students proudly walked into the Hobbton Middle School gymnasium as their fans clapped and cheered.
A celebration was held Wednesday night for the top mathletes in the country. HMS was the 2018 National “March Math Madness” (MX3) Champion. The contest was sponsored by Imagine Learning, a program that offers online tutorials in math.
After Queen’s “We Are the Champions” stopped playing, Lisa Wise, the Manager of Motivation for the program, congratulated the students in front of their parents and other school leaders.
“It’s not easy and it’s not simple math problems,” Wise said. “Take a look at how many math problems they completed.”
HMS students complete more than 3,800 hours in Imagine Math. More than 70 of the hours was done during the weekend. The students completed 15,767 math lessons and 453,020 complex problems.
It was based on a bracket-style contest based on U.S. time zones with schools competing in head-to head elimination rounds with students logging on and completing math questions online. According to officials, the journey to the top began Jan. 22 with close to 8,000 schools. During the qualifying round in February, HMS finished first in North Carolina, becoming the state’s Math Cup Champion. Nationally, HMS made the Sweet 16, Elite 8 and then the Final four. In the final round, they faced off against the Immaculate Conception School of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
After finishing second as the runner-up, HMS Principal Jeff Bradshaw had a goal to become national champions. Natasha Owens Peterson, lab facilitator played a major role in leading the process and accepting the challenge to be first. He expressed how the students should cherish the moment for the rest of their lives.
“You may never be number one in anything again for the rest of your life … I believe many of you will,” Bradshaw said. You may never be one of the top athletes in the world. You may never be one of the top scientist or top teachers in the world. But tonight, don’t never forget that you are number one in the United States of America as a mathlete. I love you and I’m proud of you.”
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, added by congratulating the students on their national championship and thanked Imagine Learning and other school leaders for their support.
“I want you all to think about that and let it soak in for a moment,” Bracy said. “You all, our students right here — Hobbton Middle School, right here in the country in Sampson County, are the best in the nation.”
He also noted that the group competed with more than 1 million students and coming in first.
“What that tells me is what you already know, hard work pays off,” Bracy said.
Following the remarks, awards to students and a congratulation video from Duke University’s athletic department, the championship trophy was proudly held up in the air. The school and Bradshaw set a goal to do it again.
“Back-to-back, back-to-back,” chanted the students in unison.