Counting Their Lucky Stars

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Jericho Middle School’s MATHCOUNTS, a mathematics club with the aim of building confidence and improving attitudes towards math and problem solving, recently won first place in the New York State MATHCOUNTS Competition, proving that the school possesses some of the strongest math minds in New York state.

The Jericho Middle School MATHCOUNTS team won first place in New York state.

The four-person team consists of seventh-grader Ethan Zhang and eighth-graders Edgar Ma, Catherine Kim and William Hu, who has been on the team since sixth-grade and has served as the team’s captain for the past two years. They are led by their proud coach Danielle Schwirzbin, who is also a math teacher at the middle school.

“I’m so impressed by this team,” said Schwirzbin. “Not only are they a pleasure for me to work with, but they also work incredibly well together.”

Before advancing to the state-level competition, held at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the young mathematicians had to first compete at the Long Island Chapter competition on Saturday, February 4, against approximately 20 schools.
There, teams of four were asked to work both independently and together in different sections, some of which they were able to use calculators and some they could not. Topics ranged from statistics and probability, to geometry, number theory and more. After completing all rounds, the captain was asked turn in the group’s answers for the judges to calculate.

Students were required to complete a variety of math problems both individually and as a group.

Though the team was skeptical of their shot at placing even within the top three, they were enthralled when it was announced that they had placed first overall in the competition, buying them a spot in the impending statewide competition.

Independently, each team member achieved their own personal accolades, with Ma scoring seventh overall, Zhang placing second overall and Hu taking the top spot.

In preparation for the New York state competition, the team, led by captain Hu, worked tirelessly, often meeting outside of club hours within their homes to practice and strategize.

“It amazes me how dedicated and hardworking these students are and just how passionate they were about the competition,” said Schwirzbin. “Once they won Long Island, it ignited this drive in them.”

A little over a month later, the four-man crew headed to the state-level competition, where they were met by another 259 students, hailing from approximately 58 schools. Despite the team’s growing worries in the face of tough competition, they were able to procure the top spot yet again.

Jericho’s MATHCOUNTS team is pictured with their coach Danielle Schwirzbin.

Aside from the team’s collective first place honor, Hu was identified as seventh in the state based on his scores from the competition. This is the second consecutive seventh-place honor at the state level for the seasoned captain.

Though the team’s eighth-graders will graduate and move on to high school next year, Schwirzbin is confident that the MATHCOUNTS program will continue to thrive as the younger students assume the heightened responsibility. This year’s success certainly sets the bar high for Jericho’s most promising up-and-coming mathematicians.

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