Math club hosts first middle school competition

March 14, 2019 — by Jeffrey Xu

A lot of planning and logistics went into making the competition happen. The club plans on hosting again next year.

Hundreds of students streamed into the McAfee Center on Feb. 23 for the 2019 South Santa Clara Valley Chapter Mathcounts to watch the Countdown round and the award ceremony, directed by Toga Junior Math Club (TJMC) adviser PJ Yim.

The Countdown round and award ceremony ran smoothly, as had the entire contest had been earlier in the day as well. The contest did not run itself; instead, high school volunteers rushed from room to room, delivering graded papers, proctoring tests and ushering students to be in the right place at the right time.

Having coordinated all of the student volunteers from the high school outreach contest math program, head liaison senior Justin Sun said that the event was an overall success.

According to Sun, the regional competition, consisting of 12 schools, was almost entirely hosted by the club itself, along with its parent coordinators and high school student volunteers.

The competition had previously been hosted annually at San Jose State University, with more than 50 schools participating. But, according to Sun, the chapter competition was forced to break into four separate smaller chapters due to the retirement of the program director Tim McCarthy last year.

Additionally, the smaller chapters would be much easier to manage than one large chapter.

“Our job was to emulate how the competition had been hosted in previous years,” Sun said. “It was logistically a lot better only having 12 schools rather than over 50.”

Due to a lack of schools volunteering to host, Saratoga High School, in partnership with the Toga Junior Math Club, hosted the event. As the student director, Sun assigned roles to all of the high school volunteers as well as coordinated the testing classrooms to make sure all the tests were being administered properly.

Yim played a large part in organizing the actual event; he set up the opening ceremony, hosted the countdown round, announced awards and coordinated with the coaches from other schools.

Freshman Jeffrey Hu was one of the graders at the event, and having practiced Mathcounts and Math League competitions in middle school, believes that the event mirrored his own experiences participating in contests.

“I think that the contest went pretty great overall in that no major grading mistakes were made,” Hu said. “I guess grading was pretty nice, though it was repetitive. It was cool to see what the general questions missed were.”

In order to fundraise for the event, Toga Junior Math Club sought donations from parents from other schools who had students attending the competition. Sun said that the parents were very generous, especially since it was the club’s first year hosting the competition and was therefore short on money.

As for the contest results, Redwood eighth-grader Stuti Agrawal took home the title of Countdown champion. As a school team, Redwood placed first in the written rounds, followed closely behind by Chaboya by a quarter of a point.

In individual results, Redwood eighth-grader Nilay Mishra placed second overall, losing in a tie-breaker to Chaboya seventh-grader Linus Tang.

Sun, along with Yim and other Toga Junior Math Club volunteers, is already reaching out to potential sponsors for next year in companies that have previously sponsored Mathcounts competitions.

“Despite how tough it was to plan the competition, it was worth it in the end to host and give these kids a good opportunity to compete,” Sun said. “We’re already looking forward to and planning next year’s competition.”

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