Student Spotlight: Student beats out 100 others in Math Counts competition; team heads to state

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - You could say Bella Aparicio has got it.

She's an eighth grader at St. James Middle School, but is doing big things to propel her to future success. Bella Aparicio took a big step in February after she won the regional Math Counts competition at Coastal Carolina University.

"Ever since I've started school, I've excelled at math and done really, really well, and I don't know; I just love solving math problems," Aparicio said. It's weird."

She started Math Counts Club as a sixth grader, skipped it her seventh grade year after forgetting a permission slip and rejoined for eighth grade. It's a good thing she did. As the regional Math Counts champion, Aparicio helped her team snag a first place finish.

"When our school won first, that was even more exciting because that means I get to bring my friends with me to the competition too, instead of just going by myself," she said.

St. James Middle's four-person Math Counts team is headed to Aiken in March for the state competition. Besides being the only girl on her team, as well as part of a major minority at regionals, Aparicio is bringing even more to the equation.

"I am the only girl on our school team, yeah," she said. "It's pretty cool because at the math competition, girls were definitely in the minority so it's cool to break stereotypes that men are better than women in math. I was really proud to, like, be a winner and represent women in the STEM field. It was really cool."

Aparicio hopes to keep raising the bar for herself in high school.  She said she's applied to Horry County's Scholars Academy. If accepted, she wants to work on her math, science and engineering skills to prepare her for an even more prestigious application - one for MIT.

Until that day come, Aparicio is practicing with her teammates and thanking her St. James Middle School teachers who took extra time to cultivate her talents.

The team is working on fundraising to pay for their transportation to Aiken for the state Math Counts competition in March.

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