A Testing Ordeal

Academic Decathlon Competes at Regional Competition


Zane Mrozla-Mindrup

Keen Eye: Staring intently at his laptop, Ethan Wegner (22) completes the Science quiz. “I think they did very well at the scrimmage, though it is hard to judge their standing using the scrimmage,” Mr. Arch said. This is Wegner’s first time competing in Academic Decathlon.

Early on Saturday morning, Jan. 9, the Academic Decathlon team gathered at the school to participate in the most important event of their season to this point, the regional competition. Each member of the team competed in a series of tests, the scores of which, when added together would determine whether or not they would qualify for state.
“I expect us to be in the top half of the state,” Academic Decathlon sponsor Mr. Arch said. “Which means I would expect we would compete for one of the state berths. I hope we’re one of the top four teams, but even if not I feel confident that we will not be too far behind.”
The long process of learning the material began with the announcement of the topic by the United States Academic Decathlon in the spring of 2020, though the team did not start work together until school resumed in August. Several members of the team shared one period a day to meet and review the material in a multitude of ways, but that was not the case for all members with some reviewing outside of the classroom and only participating in team events.
“Quizlet, time in class, focus quizzes, section exams, crash course videos, they were the best resources for studying,” senior Preston Keith said. “We made ourselves the guinea pigs, and through testing different methods we found they were the best for us, in regards to difficulty and efficiency.”
Though there is a great deal of study time from the start of the year to regionals, students still try to “cram” in the final days before the competition. Mr. Arch organized two special review sessions in the leadup, a half-day of review on Wednesday and a full-day on Friday, in addition to the time already spent studying by participants.
“Wednesday, I started doing some of the Quizlets,” senior Isaiah Bray-Johnson said. “Not much more than that until our review day on Friday, but I started going over the material in August and started preparing for regionals on Wednesday.”
Given the considerable aggregate of preparation done this year, the team is expected to top their second-place regional finish from last season. It is also unlikely that their efforts will be hindered by the pandemic as this activity is less reliant on social contact than many others.
“I think we have gotten better every year since I’ve been here,” Mr. Arch said. “So I think this team should score the highest of those three. They could prove me wrong, but I think the scoring of the team will not be affected by the adversity. Some of the fun gets taken out, yes, but it shouldn’t affect the scores.”
Nearing the end of their five month season, the Academic Decathlon team is trying to keep it alive. They are confident in their ability to advance, though they have received their individual scores they will not know how they placed and where they are headed until early next week.