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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

Korchev wins superintendent award, follows passion in math

Elitsa Koleva
Korchev poses with his M.A.S.S. Award in the library.

In the process of discovering what they want to pursue in life after high school, students find themselves trying out a multitude of different clubs, classes and activities in the lead up to their senior year. However, few manage to find their calling so early on in life as senior Alex Korchev has, whose passion for mathematics has persisted throughout his childhood, up to today.

For Korchev, math, as well as his all-around interest in academics, has been a guiding force in his life, culminating in his selection for the M.A.S.S. (Massachusetts Association of Superintendents) Award alongside senior Emily Sun. This award recognizes seniors throughout the state for their overall academic excellence, and was presented to him by Superintendent Dr. Christopher Chew at the Nov. 20 school committee meeting.

In addition to being recognized for his academic achievements at the school committee meeting, he and Sun will also be attending another ceremony in the Spring, where students from across other districts will be recognized.

“When I got an email that said I was [selected for the award], I was initially curious because I wasn’t sure what it was. […] And then, of course, I was really, really happy,” Korchev said. “I wouldn’t think that I’d be selected for an award like that.”

Although this award recognizes Korchev’s success across the school subjects, he has always found himself gravitating more toward the STEM field, especially math. His interest in math began as early as kindergarten, when his father would buy him math booklets which he would do in his spare time. Since then, math has grown to be an increasingly more prominent part of his life. In fact, next fall, Korchev will be attending Brown University with a concentration in mathematics.

“My parents are both chemists and they both have PhDs, [so] they’re both really, really, smart people,” Korchev said. “They have [helped] enable [my interest in math, with] my father buying little math booklets [and] my mother helping me out as well. Especially when I had a difficult problem, they’d always be there to help guide me in some sort.”

Taking this interest in math further, Korchev was enrolled at the Russian School of Math (RSM) since the second grade, attending weekly lessons up until his sophomore year in high school, when he had finished all of the calculus sequences offered at the school. Korchev then decided to challenge himself through dual enrollment at UMass Lowell, where he took Multivariable Calculus his junior year and Differential Equations at the start of his senior year.

“I thought it’d be interesting. It’d be a new way to challenge myself because RSM didn’t really offer those other courses […] and then I looked into [UMass Lowell’s] dual enrollment program,” Korchev said. “It was great having that new sort of challenge, instead of trying to just repeat old material that I’ve learned before.”

Over the summer, Korchev also enrolled in a math program in Philadelphia for five weeks where he would do math every day for eight hours on a college campus. He describes this as an exciting experience where he was not only able to learn about new math concepts and theorems he was unfamiliar with, but also work with international students in the process.

“The problems were very, very difficult but when you’re working on them with other people, it becomes a lot easier to keep going for hours at a time,” Korchev said.

In his time outside of school, Korchev tutors students at RSM in a variety of topics, from second grade arithmetic to eleventh grade calculus. Not only that, but he has also served as a teaching assistant for students grades one through six, in preparation to take a math test for the Math Kangaroo competition in March. For Korchev, helping students overcome topics they are struggling with has been very rewarding.

“Teaching others is always really great, especially when it’s something you struggled with previously and then you see yourself in them. And you’re like, ‘I remember how I overcame this mistake’ so I can try and use the same sort of methodology,” Korchev said. “It’s also a great feeling if you feel like you’ve guided them along the way.”

Besides coaching people outside of school, Korchev spends considerable time with the WA Math Team, where he serves as co-captain. Through the math team, he competes in American Mathematics Competitions (AMC), which are a series of challenging multiple choice math tests that must be completed in a very short period of time. During meetings when the team is not preparing for the AMC, they can be found discussing abstract problems that happen to snag their interest.

According to math teacher and math team advisor, Lisa Gartner, Korchev has all the qualities of an exceptional mathlete, with immeasurable precision and skill in the math that he does, as well as innate patience and the ability to explain math to other people. She recalls one particular instance where Korchev helped her Calculus BC students wrap their heads around a particularly difficult topic.

“Last year, I was giving extra help to BC Calc simultaneously to math team, and it was a tricky topic […]. And so, students were asking me questions […] and [I gave him] the question and he went right into an explanation, not missing a beat,” Gartner said. “I asked the students if that makes sense and [they said] it does, and it was wonderful.”

One thing that Korchev has learned over the years spent doing math is the importance of allowing himself to take breaks, rather than doing his schoolwork all at once or getting stuck on a problem for hours.

“I think I’ve [been taking] a more healthy approach when I have a problem that I’m not sure how to solve, and taking a break, putting it to the side for now, coming back to it later. I think that’s a big lesson that high school has taught me,” Korchev said.

Now that he has had a glimpse into what college life is like at UMass Lowell, Korchev is excited for the freedom he will have at Brown University whilst pursuing a concentration in math.

“I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of new people from all sorts of different backgrounds and the general campus environment,” Korchev said. “I know a few people who go there and all of them say that the environment is one of the best things about Brown, so I’m excited to experience it for myself.”

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About the Contributor
Elitsa Koleva
Elitsa Koleva, Managing Editor
Hello! My name is Elitsa and I am a junior. I enjoy reading and watching the news, plus I like to write, which are some of the reasons behind me taking Journalism. I like to swim, paint and read! 

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