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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Journey Through Equations: Competing at PUMAC

Journey+Through+Equations%3A+Competing+at+PUMAC

Waking up on a cold autumn morning, I felt nervous and excited to participate in the Princeton University Math Annual Competition, also known as PUMAC. A group of 70 formidable schools had gathered, ready to achieve the number one spot in the competition. The Tenafly Math Club’s competition team—comprised of Alon Danai (’24), Bomin Kim (’25), Daniel Israeli-Miller (’25), David Shin (’25) (me), Seihyun Lee (’25), Joe Kuwama (’25), Justin Zhu (’25), and Seichiro Takayama (’25)—was ready to perform its best in this competition. On the car ride to Princeton, I couldn’t help but experience a surge of anxiety and excitement. It was clear that PUMAC would be a defining moment in our mathematical journey, one that we would remember for a lifetime.

Math questions on the board that were done during the Team Competition. (David Shin)

Entering the waiting room at Lewis Library, I was greeted by a bustling scene of students and staff. The room buzzed with vibrant activity as participants immersed themselves in last-minute preparations and nervous chatter. It was a sight to see, with students huddled over practice problems, engaged in spirited discussions, and seeking clarification on test questions. The atmosphere crackled with anticipation as the room pulsated with the collective energy of eager mathematicians. Amidst the craze of activity, there were also vendors selling PUMAC merchandise, their cheerful voices inviting us to commemorate this momentous occasion. The air was thick with the exhilaration of competition, each participant ready to showcase and prove his skills. 

After being led to a room on the sprawling Princeton University campus, it was time to put our mathematical skills to the test. The competition was divided into three distinct sections: Geometry, Algebra, and the Team round. As I went into the first two individual sections, I could feel the stress and intensity taking hold. The confusion of the geometric proofs and algebraic equations seemed to merge into one, as time itself seemed to tick slower and make its way around the clock. Each second felt like an eternity as we grappled with the complex problems before us. However, it was during the Team section that the atmosphere shifted. Working collaboratively with my fellow group members, the room transformed into a space filled with excitement and eagerness to solve problems. Although I didn’t have much prior experience with teamwork in solving math problems, this day clearly demonstrated its importance.

Photo capturing the beauty of Princeton Campus. (David Shin)

During the lunch break, we had the chance to refuel both our bodies and minds. Beyond the competition itself, this experience also provided us with a unique opportunity to explore and appreciate the stunning beauty of the Princeton University campus. The grandeur of the buildings, the open fields, and the vibrant colors of the changing leaves pieced together an image of beauty. As we walked through the hallowed halls of this esteemed institution, the campus left a significant impression on us. 

Lee, Zhu, Israeli-Miller, and Danai continued on into the afternoon to do the extra event of the PUMAC quiz bowl. While there was confusion in getting to the test session, it was eventually sorted out, and the members were able to make it on time. This group did a phenomenal job of securing a spot in the semifinals, leading them to become ninth overall in the whole quiz bowl, which combined groups A and B. This accomplishment is an impressive feat, especially since it is the first time Tenafly has competed in this competition. 

In conclusion, participating in PUMAC was an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. The intense competition among 70 schools pushed us to test our mathematical limits and showcase our abilities. As a team, we navigated through the individual sections and felt the weight of the competition and the stress that came with it. However, it was the collaborative and enjoyable Team round that truly stood out, fostering a sense of camaraderie. 

Looking ahead, the THS math club is excited for future competitions and the opportunity to continue challenging ourselves on the thrilling journey of mathematics.

 

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About the Contributor
David Shin, Senior Staff Writer
David Shin ('25) is a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. He is looking forward to covering stories of any genre that might pique the interest of students at Tenafly High School.