Students from South, West and North Forsyth high schools left their calculators behind and traveled to South Carolina to compete in the recent Clemson University Calculus Challenge.
In the end, the eight students from West Forsyth High School took home a second place trophy for their calculus prowess.
“We were very surprised at how we did,” said Walt Pavlicek, who teaches advanced placement calculus and accelerated math. “We have good students, very good students, but we were competing against some of the best schools in the Southeast.”
Pavlicek said most of the students on the team came from classes taught by his wife, Janet. The couple accompanied West’s team, Newton’s Ghostwriters, on the trip.
Nearly 300 students from 34 schools in Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas competed in the challenge.
The event is a warm-up for Advanced Placement exams, but also challenges the students at fast math, pushing students to work together to beat the clock, without using calculators.
While the team earned second place, Pavlicek said it’s the equivalent of first place, given the competition.
“Vestavia Hills High School is one of the top teams in high school math,” he said. “They have a course they go to every day just to study to be on the math team.”
The Alabama school placed both first and third in the division, but Pavlicek is proud of the West students for faring so well in their first year.
He said he’s also proud of the entire county school system for the attention to promoting math education.
“Our kids just worked hard. I mean, really worked hard at it,” he said. “Math is a big focus [in Forsyth]. I think the teachers have done a great job of getting kids who are into math more involved.”