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Area high school produces province’s top math student

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J.H. Bruns Collegiate has the distinction of being home to province’s newest math whiz.


Vera Deng, a Grade 12 student at the Southdale school, recently won the 2012 Manitoba Mathematical Competition, a program sponsored by the Winnipeg Actuaries Club, the Manitoba Association of Math Teachers and the University of Manitoba.


Deng’s teachers couldn’t be happier.


"I am incredibly proud," says Sheeva Klassen, who taught Deng advanced placement calculus (essentially university level calculus) this year.


"Vera is incredibly bright. Lots of fun. She always works hard and helps others in class. To have her win this, it’s great."


One of J.H. Bruns’ international students, Deng is from an area of southern China near Shanghai. She’s developed close ties with the family she stays with here in Winnipeg. Deng jokes that "my home-stay mom was even more exited than my real mom" about her math contest victory.


With the win, Deng received $1,000 from MAMT. First-place also comes with a $1,000 entrance scholarship from the University of Manitoba. However, Deng — who’s been offered other entrance scholarships to schools such as University of Waterloo — has decided to study at the University of Toronto this fall.


Klassen says Deng’s performance in the Manitoba Mathematical Competition — an event traditionally dominated by St. John’s-Ravenscourt — is a feather in the cap for J.H. Bruns.


"SJR got shut out of the top four for the first time in like forever," Klassen says. "I’ve been here 16 years, and I believe only once before we had someone in the top four, and he came in fourth. So to have No. 1 is huge."


Deng, who lists some of her other interests as painting, reading, badminton and hanging out with friends, has high praise for her school.


"Before I came to Canada, I heard a lot of stories about how Canadian students like to focus on something else besides study," she says. "Since I came to J.H. Bruns, it’s not like that. Everyone is very focused on their studies and they want to achieve something, to reach their full potential. "


Deng also balks at the North American stereotype that boys are supposed to be better at math than girls.


"Math is my top subject and my favourite subject," she says. "What’s interesting is that in China most of the time girls tend to achieve higher average marks in math than boys."

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