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The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

The student news site of Hagerty High School

The BluePrint Online

Math students dominate SSC contest

Students+on+the+math+team+pose+with+their+first+place+trophy+at+the+end+of+competition.+This+year+marked+a+record+number+of+individual+trophies+as+well%2C+with+four+out+of+the+six+categories+going+to+Hagerty+students.
photo by Josephine Lim
Students on the math team pose with their first place trophy at the end of competition. This year marked a record number of individual trophies as well, with four out of the six categories going to Hagerty students.

225 students. 9 schools. 1 trophy. 

On April 6, Seminole State College hosted their annual High School Math Contest in the auditorium of their Sanford/Lake Mary Campus. With registration beginning at 8 a.m.., students woke up early to attend the competition, which is open to all high schools in Seminole County.

With six categories—Geometry, Algebra 2, Precalculus, Statistics, Calculus AB, Calculus BC—and a scholarship contest, the event welcomed students from all grade levels. For every category, each school chose a team of four to represent them, with teachers selecting students based on their test scores and overall comprehension of the specific class.

“Math is not always considered as a fun class, [so] it is nice to be able to celebrate the beauty of this with kids that feel the same way,” contest sponsor Aglaia Christodoulides said. “I also think it’s important to encourage students to do their best no matter what, whether we are successful or not.”

Math is not always considered as a fun class, [so] it is nice to be able to celebrate the beauty of this with kids that feel the same way.

— Aglaia Christodoulides, sponsor

Although students practice with their teammates in the weeks leading up to the contest, the competition’s three rounds are all individually scored. The team aspect only comes into play at the end of the contest, when contest organizers tally every team’s scores based on the members’ cumulative points. 

Freshman Nora Wood did not know her teammates very well, but she appreciated having peers she could bond with during practices and contests. 

“They all supported the team, and my teacher answered all my questions,” Wood said. “It’s a friendly competition.”

After a preliminary welcome speech and review of the contest rules, testing began at 9 a.m. Participants started off with a 10-minute practice round consisting of three questions. Although this round does not count toward the team’s total points in the overall contest, it can be used as a tiebreaker in deciding individual winners. 

The actual test takes place in three, 25-minute rounds. Although there are only seven questions per round, test problems are designed to be difficult, sometimes even extending beyond the scope of a high school class’s curriculum. For example, the Precalculus teams were expected to understand how to graph and write the equations of conic sections, a topic that was taken out of the school curriculum years ago. 

There were a lot of hard questions that I struggled on, but that’s what makes it interesting. I did it to the best of my ability…that’s [what is] really important.

— Nam Nguyen, 10

“There were a lot of hard questions that I struggled on, but that’s what makes it interesting,” sophomore Nam Nguyen, who was part of the Precalculus team, said. “I did it to the best of my ability…that’s [what is] really important.”

The rounds finished at 11:30 a.m., with schools scattering around the campus for an hour-long lunch break as they waited for tests to be graded.

Despite being a first-timer in the contest,  sophomore Ali Abderalhim came with high expectations for his team, as he heard stories of Hagerty’s dominance in the math department from his teachers. 

“I was thinking we might win because [my teacher] said that last time we got second place…[but] the tests were hard, everyone was nervous about it,” Abderalhim said. 

At 12:30 p.m., teams were called back into the auditorium for the awards ceremony. Students waited with tapping feet and fidgeting fingers as organizers went through a PowerPoint of the winners’ names. 

The first category announced was Geometry. Hagerty pulled off a strong lead as all four members of the Geometry team placed in the top 10, with Wood placing second out of the entire county. 

“I was happy just to get into the top 10…[to get second place] was a big surprise,” Wood said. 

In Algebra 2, the team finished at first place, with Abderalhim placing first individually, alongside freshman Connor Damiano at second. The Precalculus team earned a second place team trophy, and Salinas, along with another member, secured spots in the top 10. Statistics won third place, while Calculus AB and BC both triumphed at the number one spot. Overall, Hagerty placed first as a school, a streak that has been going on for years.

“[The streak] might be four or five years in a row [now]. I kind of lost track a little bit, which is kind of cool,” Dan Conybear, who sponsors the contest with Christodoulides, said. 

This year marked a record in individual first place trophies, with four out of the six categories being won by Hagerty students. Christodoulides fully credits these successes to the students themselves. 

“I think we as a math department push our students a lot, and our students come through for us,” Christodoulides said. “They’re persistent, they’re hardworking, they’re determined…the dedication and the amount of work that our students put in [shows].”

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Josephine Lim
Josephine Lim, News Editor
Josephine Lim is a junior at Hagerty High School, and this is her first year on staff. She loves using illustrations and writing to tell stories people care about. Her older sister Janell is her biggest inspiration.
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