CT politicians urge Obama to recognize US Math team with Greenwich boy

By:  Emilie Munson
Greenwich Time

GREENWICH — Local politicians are angling to have a Greenwich math expert invited to the White House.
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes called on President Obama to invite the U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad Team — six high schoolers, including former Greenwich High School student Michael Kural — to Washington to honor their victory at this year’s International Mathematical Olympiad.

Murphy, Blumenthal and Himes wrote to Obama that, considering the White House’s efforts to promote STEM and its tradition of inviting championship-winning teams to Washington, the U.S. IMO team should be appropriately recognized by the White House.

“The entire country should be proud of the way these young men represented the United States on an international stage; we believe honoring them at the White House would appropriately recognize them and send a message about the value of academic achievement,” the three politicians wrote. “Winning a prestigious international competition, whether in athletics or in academics, requires discipline, teamwork, dedication and competitiveness, and the hard work required to achieve at such a level should be recognized.”

The U.S. Team competed with high school students from more than 100 countries last month at the 57th IMO in Hong Kong. Kural was also part of the U.S. team that won the 2015 IMO, the first team from the United States in 21 years to win the global competition.

To prepare for this year’s contest, Kural and his five teammates were immersed in problem-solving practice throughout June at Carnegie Mellon University. The members of the winning U.S. Team were selected as part of a series of competitions, culminating with the U.S.A. Mathematical Olympiad.

Kural, who graduated with the Class of 2016, was no stranger to the international math scene. In 2015, he competed in the Romanian Master of Mathematics competition for high school-aged students as one of six American students in the field.

“I knew in the two years that Michael was a member of my calculus classes that he was a supremely gifted mathematician and a serious competitor in the problem-solving realm of mathematics,” said Maryann Franchella, who taught Kural at GHS.

Kural was the top scorer in the Fairfield County Math League in 2015 and was the co-captain of the GHS math team, helping his fellow mathletes snag their seventh state title in eight years this spring. He was a teaching assistant at a math camp at the University of California Berkeley last summer. He also qualified three times for the national championships of the MathCounts competition as a middle schooler.