The limit of Katie Graebner’s math skills does not exist

Sophomore impresses senior classmates with her passion for math

Anna Buyarski, Staff Writer

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When looking around Ms. Bowman’s 6th period AP Calculus AB class, one student may seem out of place. Unlike the rest of her class, she’s not allowed to wear a sweatshirt, has never experienced prom, and isn’t even old enough to drive a car. Since most plan to take the course their senior year or even in college, sophomore Katie Graebner is certainly not your average calculus student.

For starters, Graebner doesn’t have a conventional schooling background. Before attending St. Pius X, she was homeschooled for nearly all of elementary and middle school.

‘’My favorite thing about being homeschooled is that I could move at my own pace and that I could sort of sleep in. I didn’t have to wake up really early every morning,” she said. “I also liked how there wasn’t any homework, and it wasn’t as stressful either because we didn’t have official grades.”

I would say [calculus class] is challenging, but it’s not necessarily super hard.”

With more freedom in her schedule, Graebner was able to focus on her strengths. She continues to excel in all of her subjects, but her passion lies with math and science.

“Math has probably always been one of my best subjects. Math just makes sense to me. I really like math and science. I don’t know which one I like better,” she said.

She also credited her parents for instilling a love of math from an early age. Her dad graduated from MIT and is a computer engineer, and her mom used to work in finance.

“They’re definitely math people,” she explained. “If I have any questions [with my math homework] I can go to them because they know how to do it, although they may be a little more rusty. But, they understand it.”

Since Graebner took geometry in 8th grade, she was already taking Algebra II Trigonometry Honors, the most advanced sophomore math class, as a freshman. Because of her outstanding performance, she skipped Honors Analysis, the most advanced junior math class, and went straight into calculus.

While taking an advanced placement calculus class at only 15-years-old is unimaginable for most students, the material is at the perfect level for Graebner.

“I would say [calculus class] is challenging, but it’s not necessarily super hard,” she said. “Sometimes the homework can take a while because there’s just a lot of problems, so it might take me like an hour every night or a little longer.”

Next year she plans on taking AP Calculus BC followed by AP Statistics her senior year. When asked what was her favorite math class so far, she had a hard time deciding.

“Um, I don’t think geometry was my favorite,” she said after thinking for a bit. “I think I like algebra more, like solving for x. I like stuff that’s more complicated. I think it’s more fun when it’s challenging. I really like calculus.”

People talk to me about math a lot. Like, people will come up to me a be like, ‘You’re the sophomore in calculus?’ or I’ll be talking about calculus and they’ll be like, ‘You’re that person?’”

Although she is two years younger than all of her classmates, Graebner enjoys the perks that accompany taking a class with all seniors.

“The best part is getting to meet a ton of new people whom I would have never met otherwise,” she said. “The first week was a little intimidating because everyone knew each other. Even Ms. Bowman [knew all of the students.]”

Graebner said that at first, no one really seemed to even realize that she was the only student who wasn’t a senior.

“I don’t know how fast they noticed, but no one said anything about it for the first few weeks,” she explained. Then one day, “they were like, ‘You’re a sophomore, right?’ because they were talking about a class or something. They almost seemed less surprised than my friends did.”

Graebner started making a name for herself around school once word began to spread that a sophomore was taking an AP math class.

“People talk to me about math a lot. Like, people will come up to me a be like, ‘You’re the sophomore in calculus?’ or I’ll be talking about calculus and they’ll be like, ‘You’re that person?'” she said with a laugh. “It’s a little bit surprising that people care so much about which math class I’m taking. I don’t know if I necessarily think that it’s quite as incredible as the rest of the school seems to think because to me, it’s just a class that’s at my level.”

Due to her proficiency in calculus, Graebner hopes to attend the Governor’s Honors Program for mathematics at Berry College over the summer. Just like most high school sophomores, though, she’s still unsure about her future career.

“I haven’t thought about it a lot, and what I have thought about hasn’t been super serious, but I think it would be cool to pursue something related to STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] and then find a job related to that,” she explained.

With a quiet and humble sweetness that’s as noteworthy as her math skills, the seniors in Ms. Bowman’s 6th period AP Calculus AB class are proud to call Katie Graebner a classmate and friend.