Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Whitmer graduate takes 2nd in U.S. math contest


Mom Sandy Sutter smiles as son Ron Sutter displays his medals at their home. He was second in the country in a math competition sponsored by a group serving high school and college students planning technical and trade careers.

The Blade/Lisa Bernheim
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Ron Sutter had just been showered with honors as valedictorian of the Whitmer High School class of 2011 when he earned yet another distinction.

The 18-year-old placed second in the country in a math competition sponsored by SkillsUSA, a nonprofit group serving high school and college students planning technical and trade careers.

At the championship held the week before last in Kansas City, 5,600 students competed in 94 areas.

Ron's test was in a category called related technical math. It was a two-hour written exam with 50 questions that ran the gamut from statistics and geometry to trigonometry and calculus.

Ron was no stranger to tests of this sort.

He took first place last year and this year in SkillsUSA's northwest Ohio regional competition to qualify for the national contest. Last year at the national contest he finished fourth.

Ron is a math whiz who scored a perfect 800 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

In grade school, his classmates called him "the human calculator."

His grade-point average at Whitmer was a superperfect 4.63 -- that's better than perfect because graduating with all As earns a student a 4.0 average. Ron's average was higher because he completed six college-level advanced placement courses.

He has won scores of academic awards, including the superintendent's award for academic excellence for four years, the National Technical Honor Society certificate of achievement, and the Outstanding Academic Performance in Advanced Placement Calculus.

He has a full scholarship to the University of Toledo, where he plans to study electrical engineering and hopes to start as a sophomore.

Jamie Squibb, who teaches in the engineering program at the Whitmer Career and Technical Center, described Ron as "amazing," and said, "As far as intelligence and the way he carries himself, he's way ahead of most of his peers."

Sandy Sutter, Ron's mother, fairly bursts with pride when the subject of her son comes up.

"He's just really smart. He's supersmart," she said. "When he does math homework, he'll do it on the calculator, then redo it in longhand to figure out how the calculator did it."

She said he's also a hard worker who can focus on the task at hand to the exclusion of everything else.

"There were nights when he would stay up all night doing homework until it was time to go to school. Then he'd come home, take a nap, and start all over. He's very diligent with his homework," she said.

College recruiters have been phoning. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., offered him a scholarship worth $60,000 over four years, but he turned it down because it wouldn't have covered most of his costs and he didn't want to graduate with debt.

Ron, for his part, is modest about his accomplishments.

He credits the support of his family and the teachers and officials in the Washington Local Schools with enabling him to reach his current status in life.

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