Math club grows under strong leadership

March 26, 2010 — by Albert Gu and Jenny Zhang

“All right everyone, take out the 2006 AIME so we can go over the answers!” yells junior Amol Aggarwal over the group of students settling into their seats in adviser PJ Yim’s classroom. Slowly, they reach into their backpacks and pull out their tests, and the practice session begins.

Aggarwal is leading about 25 enthusiastic students through a typical Friday math club meeting. These students, ranging from freshmen to seniors and including a few middle schoolers, have a passion for math and are eager to learn and improve.

Thanks to the efforts of adviser PJ Yim in the past two years, the math club has transformed into an involved and integrated group, in which the officers take charge of most aspects, including planning contests and helping students improve at math.

As the role of contest master and archivist, Aggarwal typically prepares materials and old contests for students to practice with during meetings that occur Tuesday at lunch and Friday after-school. The other officers this year are Rolland Wu as president, David Zeng as middle school liaison, Albert Gu as communications master and Mei Gao as treasurer.

Club officers are happy that changes in the club are bringing more people into math.

“This year the club is getting more organized and we have more members, so I hope that mathematics is expanding around the school,” said Aggarwal. “We are willing to put in effort to get more people to like mathematics.”

Yim hopes that even more improvements will come in the next few years.

“They were a disorganized group of bright students,” said Yim. “They’ve come a long way, but we need to work some more in order to make my role more minimal. I shouldn’t have to do things for them. Right now they are like first graders, and I want to get them to fully mature adults.”

As it is, the club is one of the best in the country. Recently, awards include third place at the Stanford Math Tournament, second in the California Math League and first place in the West Coast region for Mandelbrot. Additionally, they had 21 qualifiers for the American Invitational Math Exam (AIME) this year, which only the top 5 percent of students nationwide are eligible to take. This is four more qualifiers than the club had last year.

Yim understands the amount of work it takes for students to reach such a high level and is amazed at not only the members of the club, but the student body in general.

“In my observation over a period of two years, Saratoga High has the most enterprising, motivated and passionate young women and men I have seen,” said Yim. “Students quietly work together, not necessarily for grades or glory, but because they love what they do. They spend hours on their own in middle school and high school. We have sophomores and juniors doing nearly graduate level mathematics.”

As the math club adviser, Yim could not be more proud.

“All things considered, I think we have an amazing group of students,” said Yim. “It has been my privilege and my honor to be with such a dedicated group of students.”

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