Written by Grace Ding
From June 2 to June 5, senior Matthew Shi and alum Maya Sankar competed in the American Regions Math League (ARML) at Las Vegas, NV. They were a part of the top San Francisco Bay Area team, which ultimately took first place in the nation.
According to Sankar, in the first three to four practices they held during late April, students practiced in small groups and were then split into teams by level. Both Shi and Sankar were selected for the top team.
ARML is a national mathematics contest in which high school students compete in 15-person teams based on geographic regions. Competitions are held simultaneously at four sites across the nation, one being Las Vegas; the winning team has the highest score total out of all sites. There are four main events: Team, in which the team solves 10 numerical-answer problems; Power, in which the team gets an hour to write proofs; Individual, in which each member of the team answers 10 questions; and Relay, a fast-paced round in which members of the team must use answers to questions solved by other teammates to hand in a final answer.
According to team coach Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo, the team’s margin of victory was only eight points. “We really needed all our students to perform well in order to win,” Rubinstein-Salzedo said. “If I do a competition, I want to win—that’s a pretty major goal of mine—and we did, so I’m really happy about that.”
Sankar also expressed her pride in her team. “Winning the championship is a combination of your scores from every single event,” she said. “We did pretty well on all of the different areas and I was happy about that.”
Shi enjoyed ARML for its accessibility to all students, regardless of their math backgrounds, because it places value on a student’s drive to learn as opposed to his or her specific skill sets. “Everyone who wants to go, can go,” he said.
Rubinstein-Salzedo also expressed great appreciation for ARML, as it has been his favorite contest since high school. “[ARML] gives students a good way to make friends with other local math students, rather than ones who just happen to go to the same school,” he said.
Therefore, although both Shi and Sankar claim they did not perform their best individually, they still enjoyed the social aspect of the experience. “I had a lot of fun on the bus rides there and back, as well as at the competition itself,” Shi said. “There were a lot of cool people hanging out and making new friends.”
In college, Sankar will have less opportunities to compete and will shift her focus to other math topics. However, she is grateful for competitions like ARML for the sense of community they brought her. “At school there’s a very small group of people who are in math club, but at math competitions, it’s like the math clubs of everywhere,” she said. “I get to see a lot of friends, meet a lot of new people and meet a lot of friends of friends.”
Shi will continue attending as many competitions as possible in his last year of high school and looks forward to ARML next year. “Math competitions don’t always have to be about math,” he said. “It’s really more of an experience and a friendly place to socialize, hang out and meet a bunch of other people.”