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9/21/2012 2:23:00 PM
Valley Catholic: A trigonometry star is born
Wilfrid Gao
Wilfrid Gao

BEAVERTON — Every year, Valley Catholic High School math students and students across the nation participate in a mathematics competition called “Trig-Star.” The nationwide competition aims to “promote excellence in the mastery of trigonometry by honoring the individual student who has demonstrated superior skill among classmates at the high school level.”

The top three students at the high school and national level are rewarded with cash prizes. Math teacher Kipp Johnson has given this test to his accelerated precalculus students for years, and prepares them by giving them previously published tests as practice. Students excel every year, and this past summer junior Wilfrid Gao went all the way to the national level to claim third place.

The first round of the test is given by a surveyor or engineer at the participating high schools. Al Hertel, a local surveyor at Caswell-Hertel Surveyors, Inc. in Beaverton, has come to Valley Catholic for six years to give the test. The test lasts for 60 minutes, and is worth one hundred points. Ties are broken by the clock—if you finish before another student with the same score, you will place higher. Senior Sophia Chau was the first place winner at Valley Catholic, but due to a schedule conflict, Chau graciously deferred her place in the competition to second place finisher Gao.

 After winning the state round and $500, Gao took the national test on June 13. Finishing the test in an hour and five minutes, his math teacher thought that his time might not be competitive enough, however, Gao placed third in the nation, competing against students from 34 other states. Gao also received another $500 cash award. Kipp Johnson was also awarded a Richard E. Lomax National Teaching Excellence Award in connection with Gao’s winning.

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