This year, the WHS Math Team, advised and established by Mrs. Kathleen Milne, competed well enough to earn a place in the playoffs for the first time in 6 years. The Math Team is a 25 year old program that competes at four regular season meets with 37 other high school teams from Massachusetts. The academic team is comprised of approximately twenty students, including veteran participants seniors Mike Sullivan and Kevin Xia who have competed well since freshman year.
This school year, the team was lucky enough to have the crucial addition of Henry Woo, a sophomore exchange student from South Korea.
Woo has been an asset to the math team since the beginning of the season. He was a high scorer in his first three meets and then earned a perfect score of 18 in his fourth meet. He also excels in the team rounds, helping the team to earn a perfect group score.
“I think Henry Woo is a genius in math, and he’s very good at math team,” said Xia, who is also captain of the team. “It’s a shame he’s not coming back next year.”
Woo is extremely advanced in mathematics, as he had already completed Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, Statistics, and Calculus prior to arriving in Walpole. These courses are equivalent to what a senior at WHS would have completed at the end of his or her high school years. Woo continues to study Advanced Placement Calculus and Honors Statistics at WHS for the 2015-2016 school year.
He also helps to provide a positive atmosphere in the classroom, despite his limited English. “During group work, he’s always willing to teach others when they’re struggling,” said senior Katie Houser, “He is amazing at math but also cares about the other students.”
Back at home in South Korea, Woo would practice math in his free time with his friends to figure out concepts on their own. Woo keeps in contact with his family by Skype, and he teaches his sister new math concepts that he learns via video chat.
“In my opinion, both countries’ math courses in school are not that different besides the use of the calculator. The real difference between the math comes from after school work. Almost all students [in South Korea] go to math school after school. In South Korea, my friends and I learned senior high school math when we were… in middle school,” Woo said. “I joined the math team to make friends who like math just as much as me.” Aside from math, Henry enjoys Chemistry and piano.
Milne said, “The veteran team members and I feel that Henry is a welcome addition to this year’s math team. He is the second highest scoring sophomore out of all 37 teams in the league for the regular season, only one point behind the highest scoring sophomore. He is the only member of our team who earned a double digit score for all four regular season meets.”
The team’s most recent meet was the playoffs, which were held at Franklin High School on March 3. During the playoff meet, the team scored very high in the group round, and they gained enough points to make it to states. However, a few days after the meet, one of the other competing math teams demanded that the all of the teams’ group round answers be rechecked. The scorers determined that the team got question 3 of the team round incorrect, and as a result, they lost a total of 12 points. Due to this rescoring, the Walpole Math Team will not be competing in the state round.