Don’t call Mark Pindur a math geek. He considers himself more of a math nerd.
And here’s some proof. By the end of his sophomore year, he had taken and aced every upper level math course Ojai Valley School has to offer, including its most challenging course–AP Calculus BC. This year, he is taking online math courses, including Vector Calculus, through the University of Illinois.
But perhaps nowhere is Mark’s love of math better exemplified than in his recent push to involve others in his passion for numbers.
Last year, he led the charge to forge the first math team at OVS, involving a small number of like-minded mathemagicians in an organization called “Mu Alpha Theta,” an honor society that hosts team math competitions.
This year he upped his game, forming a team to compete in the American Mathematics Competitions, a series of individual examinations and curriculum materials designed to build problem-solving skills and mathematical knowledge in high school students.
“I think it’s great to provide people with these opportunities,” said Mark, who, as an AP scholar last year, took five AP courses, four of them related to math and physics. “There is a lot you can learn from it, a lot you can do from it, and a lot you can gain from it.”
But there’s more to Mark Pindur than just math. He’s a robotics whiz, a cross country runner, and an outstanding all-around student.
In fact, last month, Mark was recognized by the school for making the Headmaster’s List — the highest academic honor bestowed by OVS. Additionally, he was recognized as one of only two students at Upper Campus to earn both a 5.0 GPA and an effort grade greater than 4.5.
“The Headmaster’s List recognizes what I call our varsity academic students,” said Laurel Colborn, who is in charge of Upper Campus Academic Affairs. “Mark is a math genius, but he is also just this really good student, he is a hard-working and dedicated student.”
Math is Mark’s first love, and it’s evident in everything he does.
One of the old traditions of OVS is dress dinner, where the school assigns a group of students to serve as waiters and waitresses to train their social skills.
The servers often got assigned to the same tables and with the same partners. Mark changed that by creating a mathematical arrangement. It took him hours, but afterward, the servers could serve different groups of people.
Last year, when he introduced the Mu Alpha Theta national mathematics honors society, he got a strong showing from OVS students, including fellow honors student Angela Qu. Even though she is already an AP Scholar with distinction, Angela said being on the math team taught her a lot.
“Even though I’m confident in geometry, the questions in team math are hard and Mark and the team showed me a lot that I didn’t know,” said Angela, a senior headed to Boston College next year to study math.
This year, as part of the American Mathematics Competitions, students already have taken part in their first event, and more are planned. The goal isn’t to win in the competitions, but to have fun with numbers.
To make the competitions happen, Mark had to communicate with the school, getting clearance from Head of School Craig Floyd and getting math and science teacher Micah Sittig to proctor the exams.
To Mark’s surprise, many younger students have joined his mathematics crusade this time.
“A lot of freshmen came to me, they want to do the one (competition) next year too,” Mark said. “Not the pool of people I was expecting, but I was delighted nonetheless.”
As the new crusaders are young, Mark hopes that when he graduates, they will take up his position and keep the math competitions alive at OVS.
“I think one of the freshmen next year will take over for me once I graduate,” Mark said. “Hopefully they’ll find someone to continue.”Share