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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 15,658
Registered: 12/3/04
Posted: Aug 12, 1998 5:53 PM
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From FOCUS, newletter of the Mathematical Association of American (MAA)

August/September 1998, p. 2

Mathematical Breakthrough: Melanie Wood Becomes First Girl Ever to Win
Spot on the United States Mathematical Olympiad Team

For the first time in history, a high school girl made the USA Mathematical
Olympiad (USAMO) team. Melanie Wood, a junior at Park Tudor High School in
Indianapolis, not only made the 1998 team, she tied for the first place
slot with sophomore Sasha Schwartz (Radnor High School, Radnor, PA).

The other US team members (in alphabetical order) were Reid Barton, home
schooled, Arlington, MA, grade 9 equivalent; Gabriel Carroll, Oakland
Technical High School, Oakland, CA, grade 9; Kevin D. Lacker, Sycamore High
School, Cincinnati, OH, grade 12; and Paul A. Valiant, Milton Academy,
Milton, MA, grade 9. (The alternates were David T. Vickrey, Vermillion
High School, Vermillion, SD, grade 12; and David E. Speyer, Choate Rosemary
Hall, Wallingford, CT, grade 12.)

In late July, the USAMO team traveled to Taipei, Taiwan, to compete in the
International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO).

A series of three challenging mathematical competitions was used to select
the USAMO team. In March, more than 350,000 students participated in the
American High School Mathematics Examination, the first of the
competitions. Two exams and dozens of tough problems later, the
six-member-team and two alternates emerged as the top mathematics students
in the USA.

The examinations were administered by the American Mathematics
Competitions, a program of the Mathematical Association of America.

Professor Gerald Alexanderson, President of the MAA, was delighted by the
results. "The achievement of Wood and Sasha Schwartz comes at an important
time, as we seek to improve the mathematical education of all students.

The eight winners of the USAMO are living proof that we have in our schools
some of the very best mathematics students in the world. Melanie will be
an inspiration to girls around the country. We believe that she is only
the first of an increasing number of American girls achieving at the
highest levels in mathematical competitions in the United States and

Professor Walter E. Mientka of the University of Nebraska has served as
Executive Director of the American Mathematics Competitions for
twenty-three years. He said, "Melanie Wood's achievement is a real
breakthrough. I look forward to a much larger presence of girls on future
USAMO teams."

Titu Andreescu has been Head Coach of the USA IMO team since 1995. In 1996
the USA IMO team under Coach Andreescu finished second in the International
Mathematics Olympiad. "I, too," said Andreescu, "am excited by the
breakthrough." The future "looks very bright for the performance of the
USA team in the International Mathematical Olympiads of 1999, 2000, and

Results of the 1998 IMO can be found on MAA Online,


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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