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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

Math Club ties for first at Saturday, March 23, Southern California Mathematics Competition at USC

The+six-member+Sunny+Hills+Math+Club+team+%28right%29+joins+those+from+Sierra+Canyon+School+to+recognize+their+first-place+tie+in+the+Southern+California+Mathematics+Competition+Division+B+contest+with+assistant+professor+of+mathematics+Nathaniel+Emerson+at+USC%E2%80%99s+Taper+Hall+Saturday%2C+March+23.+
Image used with permission from Olivia Kim
The six-member Sunny Hills Math Club team (right) joins those from Sierra Canyon School to recognize their first-place tie in the Southern California Mathematics Competition Division B contest with assistant professor of mathematics Nathaniel Emerson at USC’s Taper Hall Saturday, March 23.

A six-member team representing the school’s Math Club tied for first place Saturday, March 23, in a competition held every other year at USC.

“I’m just so excited and happy for them … it was amazing because I don’t think that any of us expected [to win],” said Math Club adviser Mariam Tan, who attended the event as a chaperone. “This was our first time at this particular math competition; we usually go to another one in the spring.”

Juniors Ian Kim, Kayden Kim, Olivia Kim, Derrick Sun and Seungwoo Woo along with freshman Brandon Wang competed against seven other schools in the Southern California Mathematics Competition [SCMC] Division B. 

The SCMC, which USC mathematicians founded in 2022, holds biannual competitions — one in the spring and another in the fall. The contest contains four individual rounds in which contestants complete problems in algebra, number theory, combinatorics and geometry along with an additional section in which all six students work as a team, according to the SCMC website.

Placement for each team is based on which earned the most points. The SH squad’s total tied with those from Sierra Canyon, a private school in Los Angeles, according to the school’s website.

Tan said she had originally planned for her team to compete in Math Day at the Beach held at California State University, Long Beach, on the same day as the USC event after students had completed a Google Form signup last October.

But upon receiving an email from SCMC organizers about the USC event, she said she sent a February email asking students who had previously signed up for the Cal State Long Beach competition if they wanted to change plans.

The students then agreed to switch to SCMC, as the school had already competed at Math Day at the Beach last year, and only six students expressed certainty in competing, aligning with the six-person per team requirement, Tan said.

Ian Kim, who placed first individually out of 63 participants in Division B and received a certificate, said he’s glad the team chose to switch.

“We did not do too well [at Math Day at the Beach],” he said. “It definitely feels nice to win, and being inundated with problems too above your level is no fun for anyone … I think we made the right choice [in switching to SCMC].”

Upon obtaining his award, Ian Kim said he was shocked about his results.

“My brain sort of went blank, and I just sort of thought, ‘Oh my God, I won. Right?’” the junior said. “But it made sense to me; sometimes you win something and you’re like, ‘Well, I got really lucky,’ but this felt like an entirely plausible chain of events where I felt like I deserved it.”

Sunny Hills Southern California Mathematics Competition Division B participants and Math Club adviser Mariam Tan celebrate their first-place tie in front of the campus’ famous statue, Tommy Trojan, located in the center of the USC campus Saturday, March 23. (Image used with permission from William Sun)

Ian Kim attributed his success to the weekly Math Club Monday meetings, in which members review and study past competition questions listed on the SCMC website.

“Math Club really helps in terms of identifying problems that existed in this competition’s past,” he said. “It helped me think, ‘What types of things do I specifically need to work on?’”

Sun, who placed fifth individually, said he also did not expect such an outcome.

“Although I knew that Sunny Hills had a strong team, I did not expect us to do that well in the competition, and I’m pretty surprised at the fact that we won,” he said. “I felt that the event was fun to take part in since there was a lot of unexpectedness when it came to the event, and I didn’t really know what I was getting into; I think that the event was something unique to take part in, and the experience is something I’ll remember.”

Tan said she will continue to let club members choose which competitions they compete in next school year.

”If [students] want to they can compete in more competitions next year,” the adviser said. “It’s all up to whatever the students want to do.”

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Justin Pak, News Editor
After spending his first year on The Accolade staff as a copy editor, junior Justin Pak returns as the news editor. Through journalism, he aims to strengthen his writing and time management skills. In his free time, Pak enjoys sleeping.
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