Inside the Stuyvesant Math Team

The esteemed Stuyvesant Math Team is found to be a chaotic place stocked with obscure inside jokes, a passion for Jamboard drawings, and a shared disdain for the CML.

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By Eleanor Chin

The Mathletes scribble furiously as the clock ticks down to the end of 11th period. One crumples up a piece of paper and tosses it into another dimension off-screen. Another begins sobbing behind a mute button. Most have sweat dripping down their faces onto their papers as the few massive brains participating in the meet breeze through their problem sets with minimal struggle.

“It had to do with sin(32°). 32°? Why couldn’t it be a nice number?” an anonymous sophomore breaks down soon after the meet. So-called “Group Therapy Zooms” have become a common practice after months of meets that leave Mathletes’ souls drained and in desperate need of stress relief.

Despite the exceeding pressure they face on a daily basis, math team kids would rather swallow a raw egg yolk whole than leave the group. After extensive analysis into the complex culture of the math team, it can be concluded that sessions are based around ritual-like activities and rather elaborate “inside jokes.” To gain further insight, The Spectator decided to launch an investigation into the math team’s practices. The first thing we uncovered was a long-standing battle between the penguin and the panda lovers, each believing in the superiority of their chosen animal over the other.

“There’s a thing about, uh, penguins,” freshman Mikayla Lin explained when asked about the team’s inside jokes. “Penguins are inherently better than pandas. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. They just are. I will cover my math presentations with penguins until the day I die.” No further context could be obtained as she hurriedly waddled away from the interview, accusing the interviewers of being “panda cult” members.

Through the course of more interviews, we confirmed that freshman math team members are passionate about defending penguins or pandas. Members who supported penguins would also occasionally sacrifice scientific calculators to appease them. Students from other grades, while rightfully intrigued, were unaware of this development, with the general consensus that they were deeply afraid of today’s freshmen.

An anonymous junior responded, “I don’t know about penguins, but we do occasionally pay our respects to Larry the Logarithms Lord. But who doesn’t? He does so much for us mortals.” Our interviewer refused to continue because frankly, she was too weirded out to continue. Larry’s purpose remains unknown.

We proceeded to observe math team classes across all grades. Things seemed to run smoothly at first, with the occasional sound of crying drowning out other screams of frustration. However, we compiled a list of questionable behaviors we observed throughout the sessions:

The freshman math team teacher opened the class with a daily reminder that “the Continental Mathematics League (CML) contest must burn for it is the culmination of everything wrong with this society.” We uncovered that this was due to repeated errors of CML contest writers throughout the year, though the environment regarding this on the team was far more hostile than one would expect.

The mentioning of Jamboard group work led to the spamming of “STICKY NOTE” in the Zoom chat. We have since discovered that there is a history of abusing the sticky note feature on Jamboard, with students creating slides covered in the neon squares and others creating timeless works of art with them. The nature of their popularity has led teachers to eliminate Jamboard from class discussions.

In the middle of a lecture, a junior unmuted to scream “LARRRRYYYYYYY!” This prompted a chorus of screams honoring Larry the Logarithms Lord. It stopped just as suddenly as it had started, and the teacher resumed with no comments.

A repetitive theme of penguins. As per the timer we had set up after noticing this, we found that the freshman team could not go more than 3.14 seconds before making some obscure penguin reference. This was uncomfortable.

In every grade’s team, there was a break mid-session solely dedicated to praising the AMC 10 writers. Note: upon later inquiry, the members hissed at one of our observers at the mention of the AMC 12. The reason was unknown. Our observer is currently attending therapy for the trauma.

It was undoubtedly beautiful watching these elements come together to form the culture of this team. Nonsensical word vomit blended into a delightful experience for anyone not directly involved with math. Hearing a teaching assistant scold the top five students for forgetting that zero existed was music to the ears. All of these students were bound together by a love for quadratics and the apparent desire to torture themselves with base problems. Seasoned mathematicians and those just beginning to approach the beasts of two variable algebra worksheets all shared a common goal.

As of now, no one can truly explain the intricacies of the cult-like atmospheres within the math team family. Why penguins? How do we appease Larry the Logarithms Lord? Is one truly equal to two as many members have attempted to prove? And what on earth is the spicy history between the freshman math team and pandas? The world may never know.