Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving thoughts

In the spirit of the season, I'd like to say thanks to so many who make Albany Area Math Circle possible.

Thanks to all the wonderful students and alumni of the Albany Area Math Circle, who have shared their eureka moments, who have inspired me with their passion and perserverence for pursuing problem solving challenges and sharing your mathematical insights with others! You have renewed my mathematical spirit and you make me feel mathematically young at heart working with you each week.

Thanks to Professor Krishnamoorthy, who has shared my belief and vision for Albany Area Math Circle since its small beginnings in 2001 and who has tirelessly contributed his talents and his energies for the past 8 years to helping that dream become a reality, to grow, and to thrive. I am thrilled and delighted that you have been honored with the MAA Sliffe Award.

Thanks particularly to the parents of the founding members of Albany Area Math Circle, who encouraged and supported our vision from those early days, especially Jenifer Besse, JC Glendinning, and Mitch Levinn. (Especially Mitch, for his three years of countless pizza-bearing trips across vast stretches of the Siberian tundras at RPI!)

Thanks to all past and current Albany Area Math Circle parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and other community members who have nurtured and encouraged our members' love of mathematics!

Thanks especially to the countless Math Circle parents who have contributed in so many ways by driving carpools, helping with contest registration and organizational recordkeeping, proctoring and scoring other teams at travel contests, who have provided advice and support and encouragement over the years.

Thanks in particuar to some very special Math Circle parent volunteers who have followed in the footsteps of the pioneering parents:

Thanks to Mrs. Ardito, who tirelessly searches out and posts problems to work on at weekly meetings, as well as organizing the administration of the physics olympiad contests.

Thanks to both Mr and Mrs. Ardito and to Mr. and Dr. Bieber, who have managed registration details for many travel contests, driven carpools, and pitched in countless other ways as well, including chaperoning.

Thanks to Mrs. Schaffer, who managed AAMC recordkeeping and finances as registrar for two years. (And thanks to AAMC captain Beth Schaffer for all her help with that endeavor.)

Thanks to Mr. Babbitt, who wears countless "hats," has helped in countless ways at virtually every meeting for the past two years, managing so many organizational details and enabling Math Circle to grow and thrive and expand to include more outreach to younger students. I have nominated Mr. Babbitt for special recognition for his work, and I hope to have an announcement later this year.

Thanks to Professor Rita Biswas for her willingness to help manage the registration for our Harvard-MIT Math Tournament entry this year.

Thanks to the Art of Problem Solving Foundation, for setting up an earmarked account to which math circle supporters can make tax-deductible donations! Thanks again to Mr. Babbitt for managing the paperwork and processing of those donations. And thanks to all the parents and other friends of math circle who have donated to that fund.

More generally, thanks to the entire Art of Problem Solving enterprise for their excellent contributions to developing problem-solving skills around the country and the entire world. Many of Albany Area Math Circle's veterans have benefited from AoPS free discussion forums as well as their books, classes, and now their new free Alcumus project.

Thanks to all the volunteer problem writers and committee members who contribute such interesting problems to contests like AMC, AIME, ARML, HMMT, NYSML, PUMaC, and USAMO, and who contribute in countless other ways to making those programs possible.

Thanks to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, for hosting all our meetings for the first five years of Albany Area Math Circle, and for continuing to host occasional meeting when Niskayuna Schools are on vacation break. Thanks also to Siena College for hosting a few meetings as well during the 2006-2007 year. And to Siena Professor Alicia Todaro for arranging that for us.

Thanks to Niskayuna Community Education for providing an excellent large meeting space for our regular Friday meetings since fall 2006.

And thanks to Ms. Victoria Holley, director of Niskayuna Community Education, for her help in making arrangements for our meetings.

Thanks to Calvary Church in Schenectady for hosting so many AMC8 and AMC12 contests over the years. Thanks as well as Brunswick Church, the Clifton Park Library, Colonie Christian Life Center, the Emma Willard School, the First Unitarian Society of Schenectady, GE Global Research, the Kenney Community Center, the Niskayuna branch of the Schenectady Public Library, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Schenectady County Community College, Siena College, Skidmore College, Union College, the University at Albany, and Williams College, which have all hosted math circle students for one or more math competitions and/or other math special events over the years.

Thanks especially to those veteran Math Circle members and alumni who are "paying it forward" by mentoring and coaching younger students in turn, in so many different ways, by volunteering as MATHCOUNTS coaches, as middle school Math Circle mentors, or simply as welcoming and encouraging veterans helping out new rookies on Friday nights.

When I see one math circle student helping a new member or a younger student in a middle school program, you fill my heart to bursting with pride!

Happy Thanksgiving to ALL!

Mary O'Keeffe
Albany Area Math Circle advisor

P.S. Thanks to my family--my husband, my daughters, and my parents for all their love, inspiration, patience, and support for everything I do, including Albany Area Math Circle.

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