Student Captures Top Math Honor At National Contest

BERLIN — The third time was the charm for recent Pocomoke High School (PHS) graduate Paige Stanley, who took home the top honor for technical mathematics at the last national SkillsUSA competition.

Stanley continues Worcester County Public Schools’ (WCPS) winning streak of impressive SkillsUSA finishes and hopes to parlay her math background into a career in chemical and bimolecular engineering.

Beginning in her sophomore year, Stanley has participated in SkillsUSA three times. Each year saw a better finish than the previous with Stanley taking a gold medal in her field at the 2014 event.

Math can seem like a foreign language to some, but Stanley said she enjoys immersing herself in theory and numbers. The competition at SkillsUSA was a grab bag of mathematics, she said, necessitating a broad background.

“It’s kind of realistic word problems, like applied math. It’s geometry, algebra II, some basic statistics, trigonometry, so it’s kind of the math that every student takes in high school,” Stanley said.

Stanley considers calculus one of her favorite subjects due to its visual nature and how it isn’t “just a perfect cube.” She was able to put it to good use during the competition.

“Everything that I’ve learned in my classes is what I used on that test,” she said.

It was, however, still an intimidating process made tougher by all students facing a ticking clock while they worked on a series of technical math problems. Competitors only had two hours to tackle all the complex questions, and Stanley admitted that it could be nerve wracking watching people finish early while she was still working.

“I really wasn’t expecting to win gold. I was hoping to make top 10 because I was 11th last year and that’s just a terrible place to be, just out of the top 10,” she said.

In the fall, Stanley will be heading to Johns Hopkins University to pursue a major in chemical and bimolecular engineering. The field is heavy with applied sciences but Stanley pointed out that mathematics is the foundation of what she wants to do.

The win was the culmination of years of steady improvement but Stanley said that it wasn’t done alone. She thanked all her math instructors throughout the years as well as Rick Stevens, a county teacher who also facilitates the local Skills program.

In other news, Worcester took home three third-place finishes in various categories at SkillsUSA this year.