Rutgers Prep Math Students Star in Video

The Rutgers Prep community has a well-deserved reputation for being one which honors and celebrates the promise and possibilities of mathematics. This comes through in our Lower School in a consistent focus on problem solving and math in daily life, and in our Middle School through a curriculum which takes the students from Pre-algebra to Algebra and on to Geometry. By the time students have moved up to our Upper School, they are well-prepared to try their hand at the Moody’s Mega Math (or M3) Challenge, an annual applied math contest in which high school students throughout the US use mathematical modeling to devise solutions to relevant everyday issues.

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.

Celebrating Fitness

As we headed into celebrating Rutgers Prep’s 250th year, our Physical Education department member and Fitness Center supervisor Susan Gleason got inspired. Current and former faculty members had designed a series of backpacking/ hiking/ biking / kayaking opportunities in connection with the anniversary. A call for stories had gone out to our alumni. Why not add a fitness challenge into the mix?

Thinking about a month-long time frame, Susan put together a “ladder” plan for completing squats that would get progressively more challenging for participants throughout the month. Members our faculty and staff all received an email inviting them to participate, and about twelve to fifteen people told Susan that they were going to give it a try. Finishers – at the end of the month there were six left standing – all had their name entered in a drawing for a 250th anniversary-themed prize, and winning finisher Alicia Conroy reported that she had even successfully invited her son to join in the fun:

Alicia shared, “Susan’s challenge came just at the right time. It has helped motivate me to get back to exercising and eating better. My older son also joined me in the challenges which made them more fun. The challenges can be tough (especially on certain days, when you can’t walk..haha), but rewarding. I think the Fitness Challenge is a great way to help people get into shape while allowing them to participate in the school’s 250th celebration in their own way.”

Going forward, Susan plans on offering a new challenge every month. This month, push-ups!

Rutgers Prep Hosts Eleventh Annual Dougherty Tournament

Rutgers Prep has had a wrestling team since the early 1960’s, and the program has welcomed grapplers of all sizes and experiences levels throughout its history.

In 2016, Rutgers Prep hosts the 11th annual Bob Dougherty Wrestling Tournament; this year seven invited teams will join the Argonauts on their new mat in the Rutgers Prep Field House.

Current Head Coach Mike Lamb and Assistant Coaches Derrick Laurion, Kurt Epps, and Kacy Epps look forward each year to introducing their wrestlers to what will likely be the biggest crowd they’ll see all season, as the memorial tournament draws fans from throughout the Central New Jersey Region.

Bob Dougherty was a teacher and coach at Rutgers Preparatory School for more than twenty years before his death in January of 2002. He succumbed to cancer at the age of 46. He was an inspiration to many students and to his colleagues as well. There was something special about his easy-going manner; he cared deeply for his students, his athletes, and the school. In the classroom Bob Dougherty taught Biology and Psychology. He urged his students to think and to challenge themselves. He tried to convey to them the same excitement for the subject matter that he felt. One of his former wrestlters shared, “Coach Dougherty taught us the meaning of the words dedication, honor, courage, and sacrifice. He showed us how to strengthen our bodies and our minds and taught us how to overcome our fears. He taught us how to persist in the face of adversity and in so doing, he built our character and self-esteem, and made us confident and proud of ourselves.”

The schools that have been invited to participated in this year’s Bob Dougherty Tournament include:

Blair Academy
Boonton High School
Kinnelon High School
Manville High School
Montclair High School
Newark Academy
Pingry School

Both Coach Lamb and Coach Laurion were accomplished high school wrestlers in their own right, and both have commented on the ways in which the sport has evolved for the better in the intervening years. “There are much better safeguards in place for the wrestlers now than there were when I was wrestling. We test wrestlers for hydration levels now, and the weight classes actually have a built-in expectation that students are going to continue to grow, so wrestlers are wrestling at weights that are more in line with where they are naturally,” explains Coach Laurion. “The sport also welcomes girls in a way that wasn’t historically the case,” adds Coach Lamb. (This year’s varsity squad at Rutgers Prep includes Haley Prusa ‘17, who is in her third season as a wrestler.)

Rutgers Prep boasts a middle school wrestling program, and also sees a significant number of wrestlers who give wrestling a try for the first time as ninth graders. As a result, we have students whose learning curve over the course of their time at Rutgers Prep is truly impressive. Ajeet Seenivasan ‘15, who was a star of last year’s varsity squad and competed at the state level as a senior, didn’t win a single match in his freshman year!

Rutgers Prep students who were wrestlers or managers when they were students will stream back onto campus during the Dougherty Tournament to offer logistical support, and the event is an inevitable crowd-pleaser, with lots of opportunities for upsets and matches that go into double overtime. Rutgers Prep was the overall victor in the tournament during its inaugural year, and every year the current team is seeking to achieve that level of glory once again. Win or lose, our Argonauts do themselves and Rutgers Prep proud as they honor the memory of a beloved teacher and coach whose lessons continue to resonate down the years.