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The City Journals

Mountain Ridge outstanding graduate: Math superhero to the rescue

May 29, 2022 01:25PM ● By Jet Burnham

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

Christian Richardson is a National Merit scholar finalist and State Math Sterling Scholar runner-up. He maintained a 4.0 GPA from seventh to 12th grade, scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and scored fives on every AP test he took. Christian graduated from Mountain Ridge High School with a math and world languages enhanced diploma.

What does such an extraordinary student do with his abilities? He helps others.

Because of his proficiency in math, Christian volunteered 110 hours tutoring summer school math students last summer. Realizing there were many students who need help with math homework during the school year, Christian organized an after school tutoring program. He recruited bilingual students to help tutor students who were English language learners.

“He's really good at recognizing a need and then doing something about it,” MRHS teacher Wendy Solomon said. “When he sees something that he can do, he just jumps right in and does it. He doesn't wait for someone to prompt him. And he tends to look at tasks with a real can-do attitude.”

 When Christian realized how much time it took Solomon to grade her AP calculus students’ tests, he recruited other advanced math students to form the Calc Squad, a group who helps grade the tests.

“It turned out to be a win-win-win,” Solomon said. “It's a win for me because I spend less time here [at the school]. It's a win for my current calculus students because they get the test back sooner. And it's a win for these guys because they get to keep up on their math skills.”

As president of the National Honor Society, Christian organized service opportunities for students.

“He's just a really great leader and a very impressive young man,” Solomon said.

Christian has a passion for learning and has explored interests in a variety of subjects. He took six AP classes his senior year.

“All of the subjects were super interesting and captivating to me,” he said. “A little bit stressful in May and testing time, but also very much worth it.”

Christian was so passionate about his AP classes, he helped change district policy during the 2020-21 school year, when frequent school closures due to COVID-19 disrupted classroom learning. He said it was particularly frustrating to take AP classes from home so he and two friends petitioned the school board for an exemption.

“I thought never in a million years would the school board change their mind for a guy like me, just one student at one high school, especially since our board member was very interested in pursuing online education and blended learning,” Christian said.

Because of their well-researched presentation, the policy was changed, and AP students throughout the district were allowed to resume in-person classes.

“That was a really cool experience for me to see that I can make a difference in the local politics and my voice matters,” Christian said. 

Christian is also a skilled linguist and is looking forward to learning Thai when he serves a mission in Thailand for his church later this year. Christian took Chinese language classes in middle school and Spanish in high school. After just two years of Spanish classes, he earned the Global Seal of Biliteracy, which normally takes four or five years.

 Christian said he progressed so quickly because he was constantly translating in his head and was always asking his teacher questions. He believes not being afraid to ask questions is the secret to academic success.

“That is really the difference between a student who knows but doesn't challenge themselves and a student who will go the extra mile to really push themselves to learn and to achieve,” Christian said.

Christian believes perseverance and dedication also have a big impact on academic success, because he’s seen the effect on students he’s tutored.

“I have seen a lot of students come past my table,” he said. “I can look at them and see three months down the line whether they have an A in their class or whether they have an F is whether or not they're willing to put in their own time, to take advantage of the resources that they've been given and take initiative. I've seen that as these dedicated students have taken their day that they could spend playing sports or playing video games and put the time in to study math, they found huge success.”

Christian developed leadership skills as MRHS’s student body president and in various church and scouting leadership roles. He participated in MRHS’s Choose Kind Club, MESA Club, and in the DECA and FBLA business clubs, in which he qualified for both organizations’ national competitions this year.

            Christian will be attending BYU to explore his interests in computer science, artificial intelligence, linguistic computing, business and mathematics.