Posted Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Kevin He '17 qualifies for second round of national math competition
Mr. Joe Mazeika ’73 is one of the longest tenured teachers at Wilbraham & Monson Academy. When Mr. Mazeika pays a compliment based on academics to a student, that compliment is worth a lot.
Yi “Kevin” He ’17 recently received one of those compliments.
Kevin scored in the top 1% of the American Mathematics Competitions 10, which qualified him for the American Invitational Mathematics Examination. The second round of the national competition will be held March 26.
“Kevin is one of the strongest Honors Pre-calculus students I have encountered in my 37-year career,” Mr. Mazeika said. “He is one of those math students who always wants to know more about each topic we cover. He is never satisfied by doing only what is expected. Thus far, out of 20 assessments that we have had this school year, Kevin has scored 100% on 18 of them, and the other two were 98%. That’s not a bad record. Kevin has a very bright future in mathematics.”
Kevin said he felt comfortable taking the AMC, which was held at the Academy Feb. 5. He didn’t quite finish, but all that did was fuel him to study more for the next round.
“The test was suitable for me,” Kevin said. “It wasn’t too easy for me. I know I need to get some work down in order to advance in the next round. During spring break I will go back home and I will do more practice questions and look to improve my math skill.”
Kevin has already had plenty of success in the math field. He competed in multiple math competitions in China before coming to WMA.
“Twice, when I was in sixth and seventh grade, I took part in a math competition and I came in first both times, meaning I was one of the top 100 students out of 15,000 in my province,” Kevin said.
As successful as Kevin has been in math over the years, though, he feels he still has much to learn. He plans to be more prepared for the second round.
“The last five questions were challenging for me,” Kevin said. “It reminded me I need to make more improvements and there are some students above my level. I need to try my best to catch up and make improvements in my math. You can never finish studying all of math. You have to work hard every day and that’s what this test taught me.”
Posted Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014
Valeria Surkovaite '14 overcomes fear of guns; named Riflery MVP
Valeria Surkovaite ’14 enjoyed a remarkable senior year on the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Riflery team. She served as the team’s only captain, placed second at the biggest match of the season, and was named the Titans’ Most Valuable Player.
It’s hard to believe just the thought of guns horrified Valeria less than two years ago.
However, for anyone who knows Valeria, it’s not hard to believe the honor roll student confronted an obstacle and overcame a fear.
As an eighth grader in Lithuania, Valeria headed to a bus stop at 10 p.m. one night following a music lesson. What she saw changed her life.
“I saw a drunk man across the street with a gun,” Valeria explained. “I realized his reasonable judgment wasn’t apparent so I ran really fast. While I was running I heard a gun shot. Ever since then I’ve had a fear of guns. I wanted nothing to do with them. I didn’t even watch action movies with guns.”
For years, Valeria stayed as far away from guns as possible. She never touched one; was never even in the presence of one. When she enrolled at WMA as a junior, however, Valeria decided it was time to address her fear of guns.
“When I came to WMA I realized it was time to conquer my fear, so I joined riflery,” Valeria said. “My first shot, it took me about 10 minutes to pull the trigger. That’s how scared I was. Since then I’ve realized dangerous things can be soothing. Holding a gun and getting into a zone, it’s calming for me.”
Remarkably, Valeria capped her senior year as one of the most successful shooters at the Academy in more than a decade.
“She has the ability to turn everything off and completely focus on what she’s doing,” said first-year Coach Brian Easler, who also noted Valeria’s tremendous leadership ability. “That’s probably why she’s also such a good pianist.”
Valeria concluded her high school riflery career by placing runner-up at the Prep Gallery Match Feb. 19 in Connecticut, where she scored a 194 (out of 200) and missed first place by just two points.
“I think the match was an accumulation of all of the hard work that we all put in,” said Valeria, who praised the efforts of Coach Easler and Assistant Coach John Lombard. “We proved we came to the competitive level in riflery. Throughout the season it has been a tremendous blessing to see how everyone individually grew, and more importantly, how the team grew at a rapid rate.
“I surpassed my expectations for the season. I never thought I’d shoot as high as I did. I realized riflery isn’t about talent – it’s about hard work, effort, and especially the mindset. You have to understand your body and your way of thinking.”
Posted Monday, Mar 3, 2014
Riflery completes turn-around season
The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Riflery team didn’t win a championship this season.
The Titans, though, came close, and the returning members are already excited to begin the 2014-15 season.
WMA completed its turn-around campaign Feb. 19 when it placed third at the Prep School Gallery Match in Connecticut, missing the league title by just six points. Valeria Surkovaite ’14 led the Titans with a score of 194 (out of 200), followed by Dimash Aimurzayev ’14 (192), Robert “RJ” Taylor ’15 (186) and Andy Goncalves ’15 (184).
“Where we ended was beating Xavier, six points from beating Avon, and then tying Suffield in the championship,” first-year Coach Brian Easler said. “I was talking recently with RJ - he’s already jazzed up for next year. Next year we’re going to start out where we are now. We are losing Valeria and Dimash, but we have really good shooters coming up. We even have some middle school students coming up.”
The Titans shot up the league riflery ranks all season, scoring a victory over Xavier for its first win in at least six seasons.
“We did a great job throughout the season,” Dimash said. “We had a big improvement.” Coach Easler and Coach John Lombard brought a high level of expectation to the program, which included physical fitness and mental preparation along with the standard shooting techniques.
“The coaches are probably the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Dimash said. “Each coach gave us something different. Mr. Easler taught us to dial in and get into good habits, while Mr. Lombard supported Mr. Easler but gave up some jokes. The main reason for our success was our coaches. They were dedicated.”
Even though they didn’t win, the Titans were at their best at the Gallery Match. Not only did the WMA team shoot well, but the team members also rallied around fellow teammates without any prodding from the coaches.
“We supported each other,” Coach Easler said. “The JV kids, who were shooting toward the end, came in on their own for the first few rounds to help so Coach Lombard, (manager) Josh VanVoorhis ’16 and I could just sight people in and we wouldn’t have to help people with guns and targets. It was great how they all came together, and they all had a great time.
“The defining quote was, at the end of the day, Dimash came over and said, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had in my entire life.’”
And the Titans are already counting on having fun next year as well.
“Throughout the year we’ve worked on becoming better shooters,” RJ said. “We worked on everything we needed to work on. I’m looking forward to next year because our team is very focused and we’re ready to come back with a winning record next year.”
Posted Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
WMA to host full-day academic conference, The City, April 4
Wilbraham & Monson Academy is sponsoring its third annual full-day academic conference, The City, on Friday, April 4, 2014, featuring keynote speaker Professor Xiangming Chen of Trinity College. Also speaking are Richard Walker of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and the City2City Pioneer Valley initiative, and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. The event will take place in the Athletic Center on the school’s campus on Faculty Street from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Professor Chen, Director of the Center for Urban and Global Studies at Trinity College, will give his keynote address at 9 a.m. Richard Walker will speak at 10 a.m. during the Economic and Urban Development portion of the conference, and Mayor Morse will be part of the political panel at 1:15 p.m. along with State Senator Gale Candaras and Denise Jordan, Chief of Staff to Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The panel will be moderated by WFCR’s All Things Considered Host Sue Kaplan.
A representative from MGM Springfield will also make a presentation on how MGM would approach building in the urban environment should its application be approved by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
The conference will engage students, faculty and members of the community in focusing on local and global changes, as well as the benefits and challenges of an increasingly urbanized world. Other conference speakers include: Professor Serin Houston, Visiting Assistant Professor of Geography at Mount Holyoke College; Guy McLain, Director of the Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History; Marla Michel, Director of the Business Growth Center in Springfield; and Mary Steele, TV Producer of WaterFire: Art & Soul of a City.
Participants will take part in breakout sessions including Economics and Urban Development; the History and Future of Innovation in Springfield; The Future of Global Cities; Culture and Arts; and Politics and Cities.
WGBY Channel 57 is sponsoring the event. There is no cost associated with the conference; however, registration is required to attend. To register, visit www.WMA.us/TheCity
Posted Thursday, Feb 27, 2014
Boys' Basketball rolls to quarterfinal win
The Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys' Basketball team defeated Marianapolis Prep 68-48 in a NEPSAC AA quarterfinal game Feb. 26 at WMA.
The victory advanced the Titans to a semifinal round matchup against Kimball Union Academy, which will be played March 1 at 2 p.m. at WMA.
Click here to view video highlights of WMA's win over Marianapolis.
Click here to read a story posted on masslive.com regarding the Titans' victory.
Posted Monday, Feb 24, 2014
Boys' Basketball earns #2 seed for playoffs
One season after missing the postseason by one game, the Wilbraham & Monson Academy Boys’ Basketball team earned the #2 seed in the New England Prep School Athletic Council AA Tournament.
The Titans will host Marianapolis Prep of Thompson, Conn., in a quarterfinal Feb. 26 at 4 p.m.
“I’m really proud of the guys,” WMA Coach Chris Sparks ’95 said. “I think they’ve done a great job. To be able to get a #2 seed, obviously it’s a great honor but our goal is to win the whole thing. But it sets us up better because we could have potentially two home games out of the three rounds. It’s great for the school and great for the community. I’m excited for the guys. They’ve earned it.”
WMA (19-10), which played 10 teams from outside of New England during the regular season, enters the postseason on a 10-2 run. Starters Taylor Fortin ’14, Goodluck Okonoboh ’14, Max Hoetzel ’14, Curtis Cobb ’15 and Marcel Pettway ’15, as well as reserves Randolf Thurman ’14, Earl Stephens ’15 and Joe Schneider ’15, have regularly given the Titans quality minutes.
“Different people have stepped up at different times,” Coach Sparks said. “One of the things I love to do is watch tape from the beginning of the year and see the growth our team has had as a team and individually.
“It’s been a great group . . . by far the best group I’ve had since I’ve been here. Two years ago we got the #4 seed and went to the semifinal, but this year we have all the pieces to make a great run.”
A win by WMA against Marianapolis would result in a home semifinal March 1. The final is scheduled for March 2 at Endicott College.
Posted Friday, Feb 21, 2014
Berkan Bolkan '15 places in top 10 at league championship ski meet
Just days after completing the Wilbraham & Monson Academy skiing season, Berkan Bolkan ’15 was already talking about hitting the slopes next year for the Titans.
After a strong regular season, Berkan raced to a pair of top 10 finishes at the NEPSAC Class C Meet Feb. 12 at Mount Sunapee in Newbury, N.H.
“I think I did pretty well,” said Berkan, who placed seventh in the slalom and eighth in the giant slalom at the Class C Meet. “After all of the training, it kicked in. All my experience from all of my previous training, everything came together that day.”
During the regular season, Berkan was often a top 10 finisher in the slalom. He placed 11th overall in the final regular season standings, which included skiers from all divisions.
“The season went well,” Berkan said. “I had a lot of fun. We went skiing, plenty. I used the Sunday Berkshire East trips to ski more often. For next year, I’m already starting to plan how to train myself. Next year I want to ski and practice even more.”
Posted Friday, Feb 21, 2014
Kieran Summers '14 takes 4th at Class A wrestling meet
Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Kieran Summers ’14 had a successful senior season of wrestling, and he has the hardware to prove it.
Kieran finished fourth in the 145-pound weight class at the Class A Championship Meet at Loomis Chaffee Feb. 8.
“I’m happy with how I wrestled,” said Kieran, who received a medal for his fourth-place finish. “I lost my first match but then came back and won my next three matches to reach the consolation final.”
Kieran enjoyed a strong season for the Titans. Along with Olexandr “Sasha” Oliinyk ’14, he provided great leadership and helped set the tone for WMA Wrestling.
“We had some kids really step up this year,” Kieran said. “Some of them are going to do really well at New Englands in years to come.
“I’m real happy with my season. I won some tough matches and it was a great team to be on.”