Morgan Park Academy’s Academic Challenge Team continued its history of success at the state finals, winning six medals for top-3 finishes in math and science subjects on April 22, 2019, at Eastern Illinois University.

Competing against students from similarly sized schools, MPA placed five students on the medal stand:

  • senior Bryan Coronado, first in math and second in computer science;
  • senior Will Wei, second in physics;
  • senior Tony Tang, third in physics;
  • freshman Merlin Mo, second in engineering graphics; and
  • senior Ethan Deng, third in engineering graphics.

Two other MPA students, sophomore Oscar Zhang and freshman Tom Gu, also competed at states but did not place in engineering graphics and computer science, respectively, after strong performances at the sectional level.


Upper School math teacher Jae eun Yoon, who coaches the Academic Challenge team, said she was especially happy to see several seniors break through with medals in their first state competition. Tony, affectionately nicknamed “Little Genius” by his classmates, was the only team member who had been to states before, placing second in physics last year.

“Challenging themselves over the years, they were strong enough to advance to the state level and finally achieve the honor of winning awards,” Yoon said. “It is a credit to their persistence and resilience to achieve their goals.”

The Academic Challenge is a competitive series of tests created by a team of academic experts and previously administered by the Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) program in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Headquartered now at Eastern Illinois University, the competition has offered challenging annual exams to Illinois high school students for local, regional, and statewide competition since 1975.

Morgan Park Academy’s team has a 25-year history of top-level success in state competition, including Illinois Division 300 championships in 1997 and 2012. Recent state medalists include top-3 finishers Jeffrey Eichinger in 2015 and Tony Tang and Adam Wu in 2018.