Saint Viator High School’s math team took the state contest by storm over the weekend,
finishing ninth in the state championship, hosted by the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
Little did the rest of the field know one of their secret weapons: Fr. Arnold Perham, CSV, a math scholar and published author. He personally coached the team’s oralist team, seniors Orest Byskosh and Patrick Harris, who this year tied for the state title.
“It’s very difficult to win an event at state,” Fr. Perham said. “I’m amazed at how organized they are. They had the speed and the knowledge to do well.”
The oral event is two-fold and considered to be one of the most difficult in the competition. In the first part, students are given 10 minutes to prepare their answers to a question — and then present their findings to the judges. In the second part, they have to solve a problem on the spot, orally. Making it even harder was this year’s subject: quadrant geometry.
“I’m surprised that as seniors they even wanted to do it,” Fr. Perham adds. “They’ve been working with me every day since October. It’s a great tribute to their loyalty to the team.”
Fr. Perham began teaching mathematics at Saint Viator High School in 1962, one year after it opened and more than 50 years later, he continues to meet with students every day.
While he officially retired in 2002, Fr. Perham continues to come to school every day, helping students in the Math Club, Math Team, Querbes Scholars program and in the school’s math lab.
“These kinds of results are unprecedented for Saint Viator,” Fr. Perham says. “When you consider the kind of competition they faced, it’s a huge accomplishment.”