Crunching the numbers: Abbotsford teen’s math skills recognized

Sungil Ahn’s preschool teacher would be impressed.
She was the first one to notice the boy’s gift for mathematics when he was about five years old and living in Korea.

Sungil Ahn has a rare gift for mathematics

Sungil Ahn has a rare gift for mathematics

Sungil Ahn’s preschool teacher would be impressed.

She was the first one to notice the boy’s gift for mathematics when he was about five years old and living in Korea.

Nine years later, the Grade 8 Abbotsford middle school student is getting noticed at much higher levels. Sungil, 14, recently became the first Grade 8 student to win the senior division of the B.C. Secondary School Mathematics Contest. He received a one-year scholarship from the host site, University of the Fraser Valley (UFV).

Last year, he clinched the junior category.

Also this year, Sungil placed in the top 9.1 per cent of students participating in the  Euclid Math Contest aimed at Grade 12 levels and was in the top four per cent of students in a Grade 11-level contest through the University of Waterloo.

He also wrote the Grade 12 provincial exam and scored 95 per cent.

Sungil is now under consideration to attend math courses at UFV, in between attending his other high school classes.

A medal and certificate from the Euclid contest were presented to Sungil on Thursday morning by Abbotsford middle school principal Ian Levings.

“Sungil has a great attitude. He found something he loves, and he just goes for it,”  Levings said.

Sungil’s math teacher, Michelle Ronning, said she admires his talent for numbers.

“He helps me a lot, actually,” she laughed. “He wants to get things right … That’s what drives him, I think.”

Sungil said math has always come easy to him, but he also practises on a daily basis. He said he enjoys the challenge of tackling a difficult problem and the accomplishment he feels solving it.

The teen, who is a straight A student, said he also likes science and social studies. He is not sure yet what he wants to do for a career, but is considering becoming a teacher.

His mom, Jessie Jeon, said Sungil plays video games in his spare time – Super Mario is a favourite – but mainly does lots of reading and plays the piano.

“He doesn’t watch TV,” she said.