The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind for this year’s Girls Basketball team here at Rutgers Prep. After an extraordinary season leading into a big win over Manasquan HS last weekend, the team has been attracting increasing attention at the national level. We took a few minutes today to catch up with some of the team’s senior leaders… and their coach, Mary Klinger.
When asked to reflect on her experiences with the team, Senior Captain Olivia Dabney ’17 shared, “Being a member of the Rutgers Prep Girls’ basketball team is most definitely an honor. Throughout my four years on this team I’ve become a dedicated and hardworking athlete, and even a better person. Much of that we owe to Coach Klinger. She has shown every player the value of working hard and the importance of teamwork. From early morning practices to the late weeknight games, we’ve all learned to strive for the same goal; to improve and succeed as a team. I would not trade this experience for anything!” (Olivia has signed to play for Sacred Heart University in college.)
Maddy Stanley ’17, a senior who joined Rutgers Prep as a sophomore and who will be playing for Fairleigh Dickinson next year, explained, “We had a great season last year, but we lost Nikki (Nikki Metzel ‘16, who was recruited to play for Drexel University’s Dragons), so we weren’t sure how it was going to be. When we lost that one time, in the game against Franklin, we kind of all pulled together in this spirit of, ‘Well, we don’t want to do THAT again!’ and it’s been just great ever since. I can’t believe we’re ranked 13th in the country now! If you had told my third grade self – I was actually really short when I first started playing – if you told me then that I would play on a team that was nationally ranked, I would NEVER have believed it.”
A proud Coach Klinger shared that in addition to the national ranking the team has recently received, three recruited senior players have now each been offered an opportunity to play in the highly selective NJSCA “North-South All-Star Game.”
“This is just a great opportunity for Olivia, Maddy, and Gabby. And so well-deserved. I knew that this was a special group two or three years ago, because of the athleticism, the unselfishness, and the talent. After winning the state title last year, we have been so focused on getting there again… it has been clear that they all brought the same level of commitment to being the very best team.”
In closing, Gabby Redden ‘17, who will be continuing her basketball career at Marist College in the fall, shared, “It’s pretty exciting to be ranked #1 in the Tri-State, and number thirteen in the nation by ESPN-W, so this Sunday’s game, against The Patrick School, is going to be really big. They’re going to be coming for us extra hard now. So come out and support, everybody!” the highly selective NJSCA “North-South All-Star Game.”
(For information about results and upcoming games, see the team page here.)
Rutgers Prep Upper School faculty members have an even clearer idea of how to help our students stand out in the competitive college admissions landscape thanks to a presentation which featured Admissions Officers from The George Washington University, the University of Pennsylvania, & Princeton University. The Admissions Officers “pulled back the curtain” from their long years of experience, and candidly shared with faculty members in an on campus workshop. The program included analysis of anonymized letters from past admissions cycles – of both the very helpful and less helpful varieties – which were distributed and discussed.
After the workshop, our Dean of Faculty shared, “I loved the session! I have been a teacher long enough that I think knew many of the things that they talked about, but I still liked being reminded. I really appreciated the advice that the counselors had to give, and just being face-to-face with the very people who read every word (apparently) of what we so painstakingly write was a very helpful thing. So this big bad thing called college admissions that we always talk about became more humane, more plausible, and ultimately more do-able. It was also empowering to know how much the admissions people rely on our knowledge of our students in making their decisions. I think I will see the face of each one of those people in my mind the next time I start writing a recommendation letter.“
The members of the Rutgers Prep faculty are proud to support and facilitate the development of our students as life-long learners, and welcome the opportunity to share their insight as a part of the college process. Workshops like this one provide our faculty with powerful and specific tools to compose compelling communications. These tools also help us ensure that admissions representatives are able to translate our unique perspectives into an appreciation of what each of our students will bring to their next learning community.
According to the M3’s website, this year’s students “used publicly available information and data on consumer driving habits and emerging automotive industry technologies to build mathematical models categorizing the car usage habits of drivers in the US. They then used their models to evaluate car-sharing business options, taking into account new technologies that are close to entering the mainstream including self-driving cars and vehicles that run entirely on alternative fuel or renewable energy, and then predicted which option would garner the most participation in a given city.”
Students who commit to participating in the M3 Challenge have often heard stories from teams that have gone before. “Moody’s Mega Math Challenge was perfect to bring us as students into the world of Applied Math. We used all the skills we’ve learned in school to solve problems in the real physical world,” said Ty Gardner ‘16 (Princeton ‘20). Rithvik Kondai ‘16 (WashU ‘20) added, “Yes, I was finally able to use a lot of the knowledge that I have gained through my years in high school math and apply it to a real world example!” Janvi Shukla ‘17 shared, “It was really interesting to have to create our own functions in this challenge.”
Math Department Chair Jalaj Desai believes that students should definitely seize opportunities to apply their knowledge in preparation for real life. “I have observed that students who are exposed to the interesting and practical applications of mathematics used in the M3 challenge often find a new interest in a subject that they may previously have seen as more abstract,” Desai shared.
Moody’s Mega Math challenge is the brainchild of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), which serves and advances the disciplines of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a variety of books and peer-reviewed research journals, by conducting conferences, and by hosting activity groups in various areas of mathematics.
This summer SIAM and the Moody’s Foundation plan to launch a mathematical modeling video series on the seven steps to modeling, an instructional treatment of their math modeling handbook. When Math Department Chair Jalaj Desai spoke with Moody’s representatives about his goal of opening up these opportunities to more and more students, they were immediately interested. When 97 Rutgers Prep students signed up for a Saturday morning math modeling pilot, Moody’s Problem Development Committee decided to put Rutgers Prep students at the heart of their planned video series.
The RPS Mathematics Department’s vision is to see more students taking interest in applied mathematics; similarly, M3 Challenge’s mission is also to increase the presence of mathematical modeling in education. So a joint effort between the two programs is integral to actualizing both communities’ goals. The first tangible outcome of this planning is a trailer for the video series; we think that the video producers and our students did a terrific job.
We look forward to continuing to partner with the Moody’s Foundation and SIAM as we work towards the common goal of greater access to these exciting and applicable math opportunities.