The Math Team Rises to the Top

The Math Team Rises to the Top

Dana Morrone

Competing for the greatest knowledge in advanced functions and trigonometry problems is not an ideal way for ordinary high school students to spend their free time; however, the students on the Walpole High School Math Team have shown that they are far from ordinary. The students have shown that they are willing to stand up for mathematical challenges with great poise and with great mathematical abilities, unlike many of their peers. The most recent scores released have WHS’s Math Team ranked eigth out of 32 teams in the league. Based on the team’s history and the team’s potentional, it is quite apparent that the WHS Math Team is quickly on the rise to the top.

The team competes in meets every month during the winter season. Three weeks prior to each meet all twenty members on the WHS Math Team receive three problem sets, one set being due each week. All of the problems are extremely difficult, so being on the team is definitely a challenge.  Though there are twenty people on the team, only ten of those individuals are able to compete at the meets. The ten students are chosen based on who receives the highest score on the problem sets. Each student chosen competes in three rounds, contributing multiple times to the team’s overall score. Round one is arithmetic, two is algebra I, three is geometry, four is algebra II, and five is trigonometry and advanced functions.

Mrs. Kathleen Milne has been the Math Team coach since 1991, the same year she was hired at WHS. She had experience leading math teams at previous schools, so she was happy and ready to take the position. Mrs. Milne has enjoyed her coaching position for the past 20 years and she said, “My favorite part is being able to see students have an interest in solving problems that don’t require grades and their passion for learning.” Mrs. Milne commends her students for always wanting to absorb as much information as they can. She explains that students on the team will take the effort to come and talk to her about a specific problem that they got wrong at the meet. “They won’t give up,” she said, “even if the meet is over.”

Studying and constantly updating their knowledge of math is critical to students in order to place well because the number of meets is limited during the regular season. As far as preparing her students for meets, Mrs. Milne said she tries to present topics to them which they have not seen so that there is a lower chance of the students not being familiar with the material. Also to prepare her team, she teaches them specific key strokes on their calculators so they can cut time during their calculator rounds.

The techniques prove useful in all the competitions, which are consistent throughout the school year in the first Thursday of November, December, January, and February. The team’s third meet of this year was in Medway, WHS Math Team’s biggest competitor, on Monday, January 4. Out of all five towns in the competition, including Medway, Sharon, Dover, and Dedham, Walpole took third place with 80 points. For the November and December meets, the Math Team was fourth place in their division, so earning third place during the Medway meet was a noticable improvement.

After four regular season meets, the team ranked fourth out of 32 teams in their division and therefore qualified for the league playoffs, where they placed third overall. Ultimately, the team carried their way up to the state invitational tournament where they finished eighth out of twelve teams in their division.

Senior Emily Rose, Walpole’s top competitor, has been a Math Team member for four years. She is currently tied for second in the whole league for most Math Team points with another senior opponent from another town. At the team’s most recent competition, Rose scored 15 out of 18 possible points. When asked about her work ethic for achieving success, she said, “If I understand the problem necessary to solve it, I will answer it correctly, provided that I don’t make a careless mistake.” During the team round of the competition, she commented that she likes working with her peer team members because some people have great skill in specific types of math, so working with those individuals is an easier way to earn points. Emily observed her teammates during the team round over the past three years, and she said, “I learned many math tricks…now I enjoy teaching others what I have learned.”

It is obvious that the intelligent efforts of the young scholar members of the WHS Math Team is paying off. The next meet, which is Febuary 2, will be the last meet of the year for the team. The team hopes to score high enough to become number one in the leauge. It does not seem easy, but it is possible for the determined team.