Eighth-grade student cultivates interest in high school math

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Eighth-grade student cultivates interest in high school math






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On an average school day, eighth grader Natalie Aang is excused a little early from her CCIM2 math class before rushing to the front of the school to make it in time for her second period at Buljan Middle School.

“I think [my peers] assume by my size and my face that I’m not a freshman,” Natalie said.

In the summer between sixth and seventh grade, Natalie asked her teacher to take a math placement test. Her resulting score secured her a spot in the eighth grade advanced math class. By the end of her seventh grade year, she passed the class and began attending a math class at high school level this year.

She is one of a few advanced students currently attending RHS who took high-school level math classes as middle schoolers. Sophomore Kaitlyn Aang, her elder sister, was the first in Natalie’s family to do so.

“[ I ] wanted to follow my sister,” Natalie said.

According to Kaitlyn, Natalie’s decision to follow in her elder sister’s footsteps did not surprise her parents. Though they were originally hesitant in placing her in an advanced class in RHS, as it would be more difficult to drive her from Roseville High to Buljan Middle School, they eventually caved.

However, this decision also leaves them unable to get to work as early as they normally did, because someone needed to make sure Natalie got to and from school.

According to  Kaitlyn, her experience left her with many new friends and memories and she was very supportive of her sister’s decision.

“It’s kind of like a fact of life. We’ve always wanted to excel, we’ve always been put into the accelerated courses,” Kaitlyn said. “It definitely helped that I went through the same process.”

Sandra Schmatjen, Natalie’s current math teacher, is also thrilled that Natalie is in her class.

“[ I am ] glad to help her advance in her mathematics,” Schmatjen said. “I am happy she decided to come to RHS and get the advanced math she needed.  I look forward to see how far she goes.”

Natalie’s lower grade level does not impede her learning abilities in an advanced class. According to Schmatjen, she tries her best on a daily basis and is very motivating.

“She is the epitome of an all star math student. She comes to class on time and prepared, every day.  She is attentive, respectful and participates in all activities. She is a good teammate as well as a self-motivated student,” Schmatjen said.

Natalie must get up at 6:00 – 6:30 a.m. because of her advanced class, and has longer school days than any of her peers as Buljan Middle School ends at 3:15 p.m. on a regular day. Still, Natalie is happy she is able to learn under a more advanced teacher, who is also able to explain the newer math concepts well enough for her to understand. According to Natalie, her schedule causes her to miss out on some key aspects of her middle school experience.

Natalie’s first period class at RHS ends too late to allow her any time before school to chat and catch up with her friends, though they continue to support her through her endeavors. This also forces her to rush to catch the bus on any early field trips she might take, and makes her unable to participate in choir warm-ups on most days.

Natalie will also be unable to take the eighth grade photo, as it is taken during first period.

Even with some of the challenges she faces, Natalie feels it is worth it.

“I get to have education from a better teacher than I would have had at middle school,” Natalie said.