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July 6, 2010 > Presidential recognition for local champions

Presidential recognition for local champions

By Alyson Whitaker

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Imagine sitting down in the Oval Office and chatting with the President about your family, hobbies, and favorite subjects in school. This scenario is a dream for most Americans, but on June 28, for local students Douglas Chen, Lewis Chen, Eugene Chen, and Aaron Lin, this dream became a reality.

The four junior high school students were on the winning California team of the MATHCOUNTS National Competition, and were honored to receive congratulations from President Barack Obama. They traveled to Washington DC along with their coach, Hopkins Junior High Teacher Donna Phair, for the special ceremony.

During the recognition ceremony, MATHCOUNTS Executive Director, Lou DiGioia, presented the President with a framed photo of all students who participated at the 2010 Raytheon MATHCOUNTS National Competition.

"That President Obama took the time to recognize the achievements of these outstanding students is a testament to the importance of math education in this country," said DiGioia, "Our mission is to inspire excellence, confidence and curiosity in U.S. middle school students through fun and challenging math programs. We know the President is a big proponent of mathematics literacy and we're honored by his administration's support."

President Obama praised each of the "Mathletes" for their outstanding achievement, stemming from their dedication and commitment to academic excellence, and encouraged them to continue to develop their math abilities.

The President has launched the "Educate to Innovate" campaign to inspire and motivate students to excel in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. While not everyone needs to be able to solve complex math problems with lightning speed, President Obama hopes that U.S. students will push themselves to excel in all areas of academia. These bright minds and problem solving skills are essential in order to solve the complex problems facing our nation now, and in the future.

The President engaged in a lively math discussion with the California Team members, as well as the Individual Champion Mark Sellke and Runner-Up Shyam Narayanan. He joked that when he is stumped by a math problem when helping his daughters with their homework, he knows who to call!

The chance to sit down face-to-face with the President of the United States is a once-in-a-lifetime experience - one that the MATHCOUNTS Team Champions from the Bay Area will never forget.

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