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Hays 9-year-old aces KU math competition

4/30/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Andrew Duke wasn't happy one day earlier this month when a stomach virus kept him from school, spoiling his perfect attendance record this year.

But the 9-year-old Hays boy admitted that didn't matter so much after his grandmother gave him some news she had received by email.

Josephine Squires, Andrew's guardian, informed her grandson he had won first place in a mathematics competition April 6 at the University of Kansas.

"I felt a lot better when I heard that," said Andrew, a fourth-grader at O'Loughlin Elementary School.

Andrew received $100 for winning the third- through fifth-grade competition and was among top-three winners honored at a ceremony Saturday in Lawrence.

What especially pleased Squires was Andrew recorded a near-perfect score -- 49 out of a possible 50 points.

"I was really pleased," said Squires, who also was proud to see her grandson was the only winner from western Kansas among all three competition levels -- elementary, middle and high school.

One of 32 entrants in the elementary school division, Andrew was given five math questions to work in 40 minutes.

Andrew finished his work in 35 minutes.

"They told us that a lot of them aren't able to answer them all in 40 minutes," Squires said.

"It's actually pretty easy," Andrew said.

While Andrew obviously is adept at math -- he already takes sixth-grade math at Hays Middle School -- his grandmother tries hard to make sure he is well-rounded.

Andrew plays soccer in the Hays Recreation Commission program and takes tae kwon do lessons.

He sings in his school's vocal group and takes piano lessons. He is an avid reader and has represented O'Loughlin at the Ellis County spelling bee the past two years.

Oh, and he enjoys playing videogames.

Andrew is working on a school project in which he has to explain the history of videogames and create his own game.

This summer, he also plans to take part in the Hays Arts Council's drama program.

"I try to keep him busy," Squires said.