Skipping grade in math provides opportunities, invaluable experiences

Nikki Suzani, Managing Editor

In first grade, my dad bought my sister and me a math book. I would hole up beneath the covers with a reading light and work on problems until the sun rose. I used to sit on my mother’s lap and tell her about how my aptitude for Venn Diagram problems would qualify me for the International Math Olympiad.

Clearly, that didn’t happen. Still, math always remained an epicenter that my life revolved around. Not math as in numbers, but as in the critical thinking and reasoning that math is packaged with. I liked to create my own little problems to solve, anything from the algorithm for how to create a name whose numbers added to a perfect square, or simply how to think in the second dimension. I memorized all of the powers of two up to 20 and I would recite them and keep adding to them, multiplying each one over and over again until it was ingrained into my head.

I have a vivid memory of learning how to read clocks in second grade. I knew how to do it, but the teacher called on another boy. It was 2:45, and he was struggling, finally com- ing up with the answer of 2:35. I yelled that it wasn’t right, and got sent to the office for shouting out. That bothered me; it wasn’t my fault that he didn’t get it. Everyone else felt so behind.

I’ll always be grateful to the teacher who recommended I get to skip to Alg 2/Trig Honors at Gunn, even though I got a 52% on the geometry alignment test. I’m not trying to say that the class wasn’t hard—it was practically impossible at first. But that was the fun of it. Getting better and better at it and catching myself up was the most exhilarating experience. I remember I got my first C on a logarithms quiz. I spent hours on Russian logs after that, working with my mom, and when I got my test score back for that test, I felt such a sense of pride and accomplishment in myself. I had pushed myself, I’d overcome the obstacle and I was so happy in what I’d been able to receive.

Getting to take Analysis Honors as a sophomore was a treat I’m so lucky to enjoy. The class grappled with concepts about the pure essence of math: the reasoning, the think- ing and the real-life applications of it. Everything was just so interesting to wrap my brain around, and each problem presented a challenge that I was beyond ready to tackle. Taking it as a sophomore was key too, because I had few other difficult classes and didn’t have the stress of the SATs on me, so I really was able to focus on the class and give it my maximum effort. I loved the fast pace, moving from topic to topic, and I felt like I’d found a class where my mind and my love for math belonged. I was surrounded by peers who were just as in love with the content as I was, and so happy for it.

Beyond that, being in a higher lane gave me the opportunity to make friends in a higher grade, friends I could look to for guidance, for advice about my year and people I would never have met otherwise. I’ve met some of my closest friends in math class, and I’m so lucky to get to have that experience.

Even today, being in AP Calculus BC gives me the opportunity to also take AP Physics C. That means that not only can I challenge myself in math, but I’m able to push myself in science too and have doors of opportunities opened to me that would be closed otherwise. I know more about science that I would have, simply because I was given the opportunity to skip.

I’m so thankful for the ability to skip a grade in math. I’m thankful for all the friends I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve received and the ability I’ve had to challenge myself. I don’t know where I’d be without it and I’m eternally grateful for the person who decided to give me a chance and let me skip. As the school district begins to think about limiting these opportunities, I’d like them to take a look at my story. One of the best things that happened to me was getting the opportunity to skip a grade in math and that option should be opened to more students, not closed on high-achieving students who are more than ready to learn more.