January 17, 2000
by Marshall Haley, staff reporter
WOODINVILLE--Woodinville High School's math team is among the best in the state this year. They tied for fourth in a December test, one of six practice competitions sponsored by the Washington Mathematics League, leading to regional and state championship tests in mid-March and mid-April, respectively.
"We are so proud of this team," said high school principal Vicki Puckett. "Marv Cook (team coach) is an amazing math teacher." Cook singled out senior Brandon Clayton, a three-year math team member, and junior Yong-Hwa Lee as team leaders. The team has made it to state the past three years, but had not yet won a medal, placing 12th last year, Cook said.
Lee plays a major role in the team's chance to win its first state medal this year. She had one of six perfect scores among all state teams taking the latest test. Lee said her father, Han, gave her a competitive edge over most students, because he started teaching her math before she entered grade school in her native Korea.
Lee's parents, Han and Jung Lee of Woodinville, moved their family here in the summer of 1998 because they wanted to give Yong-Hwa and her sister Sehwa an opportunity for a better education. Yong-Hwa is making the most of the opportunity, maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Lee took AP (Advanced Placement) calculus-I as a sophomore and scored a perfect "5" on the AP calculus-I test. Most students don't take calculus until their senior year. This year, she is taking AP courses in calculus-II, statistics, biology, U.S. history and Pre-AP English-11 (for juniors). Additionally, she is taking honors physics and chemistry.
"AP placement tests are sponsored by the College Boards," said Cook. "They publish score results, giving colleges an extra factor by which to compare students during the admissions process. Yong-Hwa works very hard to excel at everything she does. She has just been here one year, and her English is already excellent."
Lee said her mother, a high school teacher of Korean literature in Korea, has always encouraged her to read a lot of books. Taking violin lessons for 11 years has also helped save Yong-Hwa from an overly dominant "right brain" (the analytical, math side). She now plays with the Seattle Youth Symphony.
Where will all this hard work lead?
"I would like to study cell biology or molecular biology and maybe do cancer research," said Lee. "That will be me!" she said to recent predictions that cancer will be cured in this century.
Lee's father didn't finally move to Woodinville until this November. A former Korean navy captain and marine engineer, in recent years he has worked in private industry, overseeing design and construction of Korean Navy submarines.
When not studying or playing violin, Lee likes to volunteer with John Markuson's City of Woodinville volunteer staff, which she started doing last March. She also volunteered 100 hours at the Seattle Aquarium last summer as a tour director. She conducted tours in English, and was assigned to lead Korean tourist groups.
Has she had any trouble adapting to American life?
"I don't understand why sports teams get the most attention in American high schools," Lee replied. "I think academic teams should receive equal attention and emphasis."
With Yong-Hwa leading this Falcon team, that could soon happen.