An insight on South High’s Mu Alpha Theta chapter.


Lily Deetz

Senior Anna Barker starts her latest math contest during a Mu Alpha Theta meeting.

Math competitions. 

You would expect most students to shudder at the mere thought of those two words. At Parkway South High School, however, students aren’t shuddering, they are thinking of Mu Alpha Theta.

Mu Alpha Theta is a national math honor society for high school and two-year college students. Although, it might not be as daunting as it sounds according to some South students, including junior Carley VanEssendelft. 

“It’s not that stressful because you know it is supposed to be a challenge, and there is no effect on grades,” VanEssendelft said.

Knowing that competitions don’t have any effect on students’ grades allows students, such as sophomore Marco Ni, to think of the society as enjoyable rather than stressful.

“I think it’s fun,” sophomore Marco Ni said.

The society runs on a system of points, most of which come from simply attending math competitions throughout the year. Students can attend these competitions as early as freshman year. 

“There are certain levels of Mu Alpha Theta that have different requirements. You need a minimum of 200 points to reach the first level,” Staci Noyes, math teacher and sponsor of South’s chapter, explained. 

Two hundred points may sound like a lot but students wait until January of their senior year to apply. Applying as a senior gives students more time to gain points, which in turn gives students their best chance to reach the highest level within the program: theta.

Reaching for theta level has one big benefit, according to Noyes: college admissions.

“I encourage all math students to get involved because it looks good on college applications,” said Noyes.

Students, namely upperclassmen like VanEssendelft, seem to agree.

“Being in Mu Alpha Theta looks good for colleges,” VanEssendelft said.

In addition to the program’s paper benefits, students agree that the competitions give them a much-needed extra challenge. 

“The questions are challenging and force you to think in different ways. It’s helpful,” junior Maura Korte said.

Korte, however, isn’t the only one who wants a challenge. 

“I think it challenges students and encourages them to learn more,” Ni said. 

Math competitions. 

It turns out that with a community like South’s, those two words are nothing to fear.

“Join!” Korte said.