Math team culminates season at county final, advances to state competition


Photo by Talia Moskowitz ’24.

Pictured: Grace Zhang ’25, Anna Ji ’25, Abraham Lobsenz ’25, Tom Zhang ’23, Nikhil Kanthan ’23, Max Piterbarg ’24, James Cao ’23, Alex Mussomeli ’23 and Perrin root ’25. The math team prepares for their upcoming state competition in April.

In room 3063 on Thursday afternoons, an open classroom door provides a view into the Staples math team, an enthusiastic, competitive and passionate group of high school mathematicians. 

On Wednesday, March 1, the Staples math team competed in the final round of the Fairfield County Math League tournament. Staples came in seventh in the county, against 29 competing schools, including private schools. The team accumulated 64 points, tying with Ridgefield. With this score, the team qualified to compete in the Connecticut State Association of Math Leagues (CSAML) competition on April 4. 

Jeffrey Pogue ’23 reflected on his own performance in the county final and looks forward to the next competition.

“I always believe I did better than I do, but often the unexpected points off are from silly mistakes that just motivate me to do better at the next competition,” Pogue said. “I’m very excited that this competition qualified us for states, though. That is going to be really really fun.”

Math teacher Mike Forgette, advisor of the team, said that they have been preparing since the beginning of the school year for their competitions. 

“The team meets twice a week practicing problems in the categories that are given each month,” Forgette said. “We then hold a mock competition to determine which six students will represent SHS on the competing team.” 

According to Forgette, the team must be fluent in math topics ranging from pre-algebra through pre-calculus, and further advanced topics like discrete math – which includes integers, graphs, and statements in logic. This vast array of material is usually covered over five academic school years and was tested in six rounds in the competition.

The Staples team racked up many accolades after their performance in the finals and throughout their overall season. According to the FCML website, Tom Zhang ’23 was among the highest-scoring seniors from the final competition, earning 18 points, the highest possible score. 

Asmi Rudra ’24 scored 18 points as well and was recognized as one of the highest scoring juniors at the competition, along with six others from Fairfield County schools. 

Our biggest accomplishment was that we placed higher this year than we have in the past two years. So, I’m very proud of the tremendous progress our members are making

— Mike Forgette

Finally, for the sophomore category, Anna Zhi ’25 scored nine points, earning the third highest individual score.

An additional accomplishment, Kendra Cheng ’25 was recognized as one of the highest-scoring overall sophomores at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Total scores were comprised of the students’ five highest scores this year. Cheng ranked third in the FCIAC with 37 points. 

Pogue was excited about the team’s many accomplishments, crediting a couple key members in the group.

 “We have two super-geniuses on our team that almost always ace their questions and a good environment of smart, funny, and supportive teammates around them,” Pogue  said. 

Forgette is proud of the team’s performance this year. 

“Our biggest accomplishment was that we placed higher this year than we have in the past two years,” Forgette said, “so I’m very proud of the tremendous progress our members are making,” he said. 

As with most disciplines, the COVID-19 pandemic imposed a significant burden on the math team’s vitality since 2020. 

“Once SHS went virtual, it was more difficult to meet in person, and attendance dropped drastically,” Forgette said. “Our attendance is still lower than it was pre-COVID.”

Captain Nikhil Kanthan ’23 noted the great milestone of the team’s first in person competition since the pandemic. 

“I think it was really great. You get to see other people there, the other ‘mathletes’ as we call them,” Kanthan said. “It was a new experience for all of us, I think we really enjoyed it. We got to compete in person which I think was a bucket list item for us.”

The organization is welcome to all students.

“We are continually trying to recruit interested students,” Forgette said. “That [way] we have a bigger pool of talent to choose from when forming our monthly competing team.”