Academic Decathalon

The Academic Decathlon is an annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon, where qualified students from various high schools in the district will compete against each other to place top in all subjects. The competition consists of seven multiple choice tests, two personal performance events, and an essay. This year, Ms. Terhardt and Ms. Lee, the decathlon coaches, are excited to see new faces in room 410 every week, where meetings will be held starting Sept. 22, right after school.

Every year the Decathlon has a different theme, and this year the American Revolution and New Nation theme will be integrated across six different subject areas: art, economics, literature, music, science, and social science.  Students also study mathematics and participate in essay-writing, speech, and interview events. Participants will be required to read chapters from “Wieland” by Charles Brockden Brown for every meeting. This novel is set sometime between the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, and it’s considered to be one of the first examples of a distinctly American Gothic novel, characterized by its use of astonishing ferocity and intensity. While in most subjects the majority of the topics relate to the overall curricular theme, some topics that cover fundamentals are included to encourage an understanding of the subject area as a whole. The USAD mathematics curriculum is unrelated to the theme and focuses only on standard high school mathematics topics. Meetings are held on Thursdays after school, where discussions about each chapter will also take place.  

The ultimate goal is for the most well-rounded pupils in the team to compete at the end of the semester against other schools in all of those subjects.  Teams consist of three Honor students, with a 3.80-4.00 GPA, three Scholastic students, showing a 3.00-3.799 GPA, and three Varsity students, displaying a 0.00-3.199 GPA. Contestants may compete in a higher division than their own grade point average category but not in a lower category. However, Ms. Terhardt explains that even if you don’t go off to compete, being a part of the club will “teach you valuable life skills such as teamwork, communication, how to study, collaboration with others, hard work, and things like that.” 

During meetings, Ms. Terhardt mentions that “Most of the time is spent on learning how to take the tests, and discussing the book together, answering any questions, comments, and opinions.” Additionally, coaches will guide students on essay writing and speeches, helping you prepare your presentation, or teaching you how to study better. 

Asal Flodius (11) was “pleasantly surprised and proud of [her]self” when she was nominated to join the Academic Decathlon and represent her school. She thinks this selection made by her math teacher proves that she’s “on the right track, both academically and civically. She believes it is beneficial because it “teaches important life skills, pushes students to make effort in groups, and looks good on college applications.” 

Although many pupils were invited by their teachers to be a part of the group, students who believe they are academically well-rounded and want to challenge themselves can join the Decathlon. Students will meet on Thursdays after school in room 410 to cooperate with others for the end goal of success.