Math team dominates SSC competition

Behind the packets: how and why they did well

Math competitions look exactly what you think they would look like. Kids file into a room, sit down at desks, open up a testing packet, and start scratching pencil on paper, rushing through problem after problem until the final page is flipped and the task is complete. And spoiler: Hagerty is really, really good at them. 

This past Saturday the math team competed at the Seminole State College’s math competition. Categories included Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus, Statistics, Calculus AB, and Calculus BC. 

“We did really well. We won the entire tournament overall,” math teacher Aglaia Christodoulides said. 

Individual competitors Josephine Lim, Genevieve Le, Ryan Kratz, Adrian Barrows and Connor Pham all placed second in their respective categories, which spanned almost all categories. Nicholas Maxwell and  Helen Zou placed third in their competition events. 

“We had students place very well in individual rounds, and as a team we won three first place and two second place rounds,” Christodoulides said.

Christodoulides isn’t the only club sponsor – other teachers who help train kids include Lois Arp, Caryolyn Guzman and Dan Conybear, among others. Together, their expertise spans from geometry, to calculus, to algebra and statistics. 

The team’s strength comes from more than just after school work. The option to take difficult classes in a strong math department lends itself to a successful program. 

“We practiced very little this year.  When we came back from Spring Break, we had less than two weeks to get a team together and start practices,” Christodoulides said.

The math team, although not this year due to a rushed schedule, is unique in the way that younger students are introduced to new topics.

“Normally we have meetings once a month where we have practice tests and different lessons taught by upper classmates to under classmates,” senior Kevin Connell said, one of the few students who participated before COVID-19 ended competitions for two years. 

Even though this year looked different than most normal terms, the club still created a community that is about more than just a packet of tests and exceptional math students. 

“More than anything, it inspired me to learn more,” Connell said. “It gives a sense of community. It’s normally not fun to be the math nerd, you know? But it gives you an incentive and community to continue studying and doing better for. All that leads to personal success.”

Christodoulides fully acknowledges that math is often seen as an odd thing to enjoy. She also believes math plays a vital role in growing student’s minds and lives. 

“[The Math Team] makes kids feel good about being smart. It encourages kids to do things that they aren’t normally going to do. Once they try it out and they see how good they are, it gives them an incentive to take risks, to try things they have never done before, to push their limits,” Christodoulides said.