Pacific Math gives competitors an edge at annual competition

Visit a typical college campus on a Saturday morning, and you are likely to find an atmosphere of pleasant languor as students sleep off the week’s studies. However, Pacific is anything but typical, and on Saturday, April 26, the morning mood on campus was more supercharged than snooze-worthy.

The fifth annual High School Math Competition attracted 81 high school students from nine Central Valley high schools for a day of intense competition, organized by Pacific’s Department of Mathematics and by the Pacific Math Club, a student-run organization dedicated to all things mathematical.

The Lincoln High School Math Team took 1st Place at Pacific's Fifth Annual High School Math Competition.

The Lincoln High School Math Team took 1st Place at Pacific’s Fifth Annual High School Math Competition.

Lincoln High School continued their five-year winning streak with a first-place victory, followed closely by Tracy High School in a second-place finish. Edison High School, which has been involved since the competition’s inception, finally made it to podium with a third place finish. Bear Creek High School came in fourth place. Other competitors included St. Mary’s High School, Benjamin Holt High School, Cesar Chavez High School, Health Careers Academy, and McNair High School.

“The students who attend the event are dedicated, as indicated by the fact that they are willing to sacrifice a Saturday morning to come take a math exam,” says Prof. John Mayberry, one of the event’s chief organizers. “This competition is always one of my yearly highlights – the atmosphere of suspense, the excitement in hearing a student’s name announced, the camaraderie within the schools as students cheer each other on; its every bit as exciting as a sporting event, especially for a math nerd like myself!”

Though the competitors come from local high schools, the High School Math Competition is a learning experience for Pacific students as well.

“The competition is also a great experience for the Pacific Math Club students who organize the event each year,” Mayberry says. “Students in the club learn important leadership skills through the process; this year’s president Liliana Magana (’14) exhibited a tremendous amount of growth in her ability to show initiative and organize large scale events.”

The High School Math Competition is made possible by a generous gift from the Avinash Raina Foundation, created in honor of Stockton native Avinash Raina, who passed away of tongue cancer at the age of 22. Surrender and Girja Raina, Avinash’s parents, created the foundation after Avinash’s passing to honor his legacy. Avinash was passionate about mathematics, journalism, public speaking, and making an impact in his hometown. The top awards given at the conclusion of Saturday’s competition are named in his honor.

And while the students return home with shiny trophies and bragging rights, there’s no telling where the ripples of impact may be felt. Khuong Tran ’17, a civil engineering student, was a junior at Bear Creek High School when he came to Pacific’s High School Math Competition and took the Algebra II exam. He enjoyed the competition so much, he decided to come to Pacific and this year, he wrote three-quarters on the Algebra II exam and has been heavily involved with the math club.

“While recruitment is not the goal of the competition, it is always a nice side effect,” said Mayberry.

Academic excellence honored, students’ futures expanded, a legacy remembered. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday at Pacific.

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