Math the All-Star Way

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published July 19, 2013

The math abilities of several local high school students added up when they competed in a national mathematics competition last month.

The Michigan All-Star Team consisted of 45 high school math students, broken down into three teams of 15, who took their mathematical skills all the way to the American Regions Mathematics League. Clinton Township resident Joseph Renzi, who attends University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe Woods, was among the competitors.

The national competition was held June 1 on the campuses of the University of Iowa, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. The Michigan team, which also included Mike Yu, of Troy, and Jackie Bredenberg, of Bloomfield Hills, participated in Iowa.

The competition consisted of several events, which included a team round, a power question, an individual round, two relay rounds and a super-relay.

“They’re all strong students,” Lawrence Technological University mathematics professor Ruth Favro said. “It was quite a trip and a lot of fun.”

Favro; David Friday, of Macomb Community College; and Cap Khoury, of the University of Michigan, organized the Michigan team, with help from Ada Dong, of Oakland University; John Gershenson; Glenn Obsniuk; Nicholas Cirullo; Mark Bollman; and Philip Eliason.

Renzi, Yu and Bredenberg were on the A1 Reals team, which placed 15th nationally out of 78 teams in the A Division. The Michigan A2 Naturals placed 59th in the A division, and the Michigan B1 Primes placed 15th nationally out of a field of 61 teams in the B divisions.

Many students involved with the ARML pursue careers in computer science, business, medicine or investment; therefore a strong math background is vital. 

“Math underlines just about everything,” Favro said. “It underlines the usual things; it underlines business in so many ways. It underlines economics, from retail to banking. It’s sometimes simple. It’s sometimes complex.”

The team was supported by the George S. & Helen G. Deffenbaugh Foundation; All-Stars alumni, parents and coaches; Lawrence Tech; Albion College; and Ann Arbor Huron High School.

According to a Mathematical Association of America press release, the Michigan team members were selected from the top 100 students who participated in the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition last fall.

Participants have to pay for part of the funding that goes into the costs of the competitions. They also receive money through fundraisers. Anyone interested in making a monetary contribution can contact Ruth Favro via email at