Meredith Middle School 8th grader Sean Houchins-McCallum reported to school as usual Thursday morning, but the rest of the day was decidedly UNusual.

First of all, he was included in the building’s morning announcements, which made a point of wishing him luck in the state Math Counts meet at DMACC.

Math Counts is the Iowa Engineering Society’s statewide competition that encourages and rewards math excellence at the middle school level.

Sean has participated in Math Counts at Meredith for three years. It’s an after school activity that meets every Friday and is “coached” by 6th grade math teacher Jodi Osthus.

“We have about 20 kids who participate throughout the year,” Osthus said. “There are chapters at other district middle schools too, but I believe Sean is the only (DMPS) student who qualified for the state competition this year.”

Last year he finished in the top 100 in Central Iowa. This year he was 13th out of over 300 students in the state qualifying competition last month. Besides math, climbing is Sean’s other strong suit. He is on the elite climbing team for Climb Iowa. Last summer, he made it to climbing nationals in Atlanta.

He likes to compete in both disciplines.

“Climbing is going to be an Olympic sport,” Sean said before heading to Ankeny Thursday morning, escorted by Osthus and armed with only a pair of sharpened #2s and his trusty calculator. “I’m not saying I’m good enough to make the Olympics, but…”

He left completion of the thought to the listener’s imagination and grinned.

UPDATE: Sean finished #41 out of 164 at the state competition – top 25%! Next year he’s bound for Hoover High, right next door to Meredith, where he’ll continue his climb at the STEM Academy. His peak is still to come.

Published on