It all added up for Huntington High School’s chapter of Mu Alpha Theta, the national Math Honor Society as the organization held its annual fundraising badminton tournament in Louis D. Giani Gymnasium.
“The students had a great time,” said math teacher Monica Racz, who serves as the group’s faculty advisor along with department colleague Jordan Swierkowski. “The final came down to a battle of the siblings with Mikah and Abby Schueller vs. Evan and Lucas Spagnoletti as well as Ryan Curran.”
The battle went to overtime with the Schueller’s claiming the victory. “The Math Honor Society is very grateful to all those that participated as well as Mr. [Alex] Nelson for assisting us in preparing for the tournament.”
Mr. Nelson has been tapped to serve as the Blue Devils’ founding varsity badminton coach. Huntington High School will send separate boys’ and girls’ teams onto the court for the first time ever next spring. Interested in playing for the Blue Devils? Send a message to Mr. Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Math Honor Society’s badminton tournament brought excitement to the gym. “We had nine teams participating and lots of laughs and smiles on student and teacher faces,” Mrs. Racz said.
Students who have successfully completed Algebra II are able to apply for membership in the Math Honor Society. Induction into the organization requires enrollment in a math class higher than Algebra 2 (such as pre-Calculus, AP Calculus or AP Statistics) and a minimum unweighted grade average of 85 in all high school math courses.
Math has always been a popular area of study at Huntington High School and it is still today as many students challenge themselves with advanced courses.
Huntington Math Club History
A Huntington High School math club known as Sigma Mu was formed in 1926 “by a group of students who desired to advance farther into mathematics than what the school offers,” according to the 1931 yearbook.
Like dozens of other clubs, Sigma Mu prospered for decades before eventually disappearing from the scene. In 1931, it featured an active membership of about 20 teenagers, including many of the school’s most prominent members.
Eligibility was restricted to students who had passed Geometry B and were accepted by the club. The faculty advisor during those early years was Barnard College graduate Edna Van Wart. In 1932, membership grew by nearly 50 percent. The club typically met every two week “to discuss mathematical freaks and peculiarities.”
Sigma Mu prospered under the steady leadership of Miss Van Wart, who enjoyed music in her free time. During the 1937-38 school year, regular meetings consisted of working on math problems and puzzles and “current mathematical happenings.” The main events of the year were the Christmas party and the club’s June picnic.
Miss Van Wart graduated from Barnard College in 1919. She taught for three years prior to coming to Huntington and beginning her teaching career here in 1922. She was on the faculty for the next four decades before retiring in June 1962.
In 1955, Miss Van Wart became the high school’s first chair of the mathematics department. She also served as senior class advisor for 14 years. Huntington High School’s 1946 and 1962 yearbooks are dedicated to the longtime district teacher.
“We regret her retirement,” said Principal Robert A. Cushman in remarks republished on page 121 of the 1962 edition of “The Huntingtonian.” “Over the span of forty years, Miss Van Wart has taught skillfully and well thousands of Huntington students. Her warm friendliness, loyal devotion and superior work have inspired and helped generations of students and faculty. We give her our best wishes with the full appreciation in our hearts of the privilege of having known and worked with her. We honor a great teacher.” She passed away in November 1980.
The 1957 edition of “The Huntingtonian” doesn’t include any mention of Sigma Mu, instead referring to the group simply as the Math Club. Its members were termed “the wizards in our midst” and meetings focused on such topics as determinants, symbolic logic and calculus. Members competed in the Pi Mu Epsilon contest.
At some point, a junior math club was formed. Students in that club studied the history of math and other aspects of the discipline, eventually graduating to the senior club. They also learned math shortcuts and prepared for future math contests.
By the 1960-61 school year, Sigma Mu and the Math Club disappeared into Huntington High School’s history. Today they are completely forgotten.