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Local students do well at regional math, science competition

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The Holtville MESA team brought home medals, ribbons and a trophy for placing first in the math team category at the University of California, Riverside, MESA Day Regionals competition last weekend. (PHOTO COURTESY OF LUPITA PEREZ / April 24, 2012)

The Imperial Valley Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement program has proven once again that it is possible to have fun while learning.

The team came back from the University of California, Riverside, MESA Day Regionals competition with ribbons, medals and a trophy beating out hundreds of students all over Southern California, program director Jeanette Espino said.

Students from Meadows Elementary School, Holtville Middle School, William Moreno Junior High School, Enrique Camarena Junior High School, Seeley School, Westmorland School, Kennedy Middle School and Bill E. Young Jr. Middle School participated.

“This has been the best year,” Espino said. “We came with the most number of awards for the Imperial Valley ever.”

Students worked for three months on several projects like bridges and windmills. They also did oral presentations and competed in math categories.

The Holtville Middle School team won first place in the Team Math competition. MESA coordinator Lupita Perez said the students have been studying for three months.

“The students came back very excited with their win and very proud to represent Imperial Valley at regionals,” Perez said.

Perez also said that it makes them proud to know that they were able to accomplish so much coming from such a small town beating out students from more affluent communities.

“They are the top math students in the MESA Southern California programs,” Perez said.

Eight-grader Brea Torquato placed second in the algebra competition and she said the most important thing about the program is the ability to learn from hands-on experience.

“Learning through a textbook isn’t for everyone,” Torquato said.

She was also part of the windmills team that brought back three ribbons by placing second in three of four categories.

Espino said the program has been very successful in helping children decide to advance their education. She said 70 percent of their students have gone to a four-year university.

Students that have gone through the program have jobs with several engineering companies throughout the country and one of them just landed a job with Microsoft.

Even so, the program has not been immune to the state economy. Next year there will be a $50,000 budget cut, which could result in cutting some of the programs they offer to the children, Espino said.

The reason why the program exists is to expose children to math and science because we need them to be our future engineers, she said.

“Every year engineer jobs go unfilled and we have to go outside the country to fulfill those jobs,” Espino said.

The program received a $25,000 grant from NASA and will have a summer program for the children called NASA summer of innovation.

There is only space for 275 students so they will start an application process next week. Children interested in participating should contact the MESA adviser at their school.

Espino credited the teachers for the success of the program and the students. She said they have been an essential part of making the students aware of how much they can accomplish.

“The teachers really care for the students and care for the program,” Espino said.

Multimedia Producer Laura Gonzalez can be reached at 760-337-3440 or

Published in MESA Activities MESA Day News