Academic Decathlon succeeds at Nationals


Jordan Neeley (11), a member of the Honors team, studies to prepare for her second Nationals competition.

Mira Sidhu, Staff

Jordan Neeley (11), a member of the Honors team, studies to prepare for her second Nationals competition. Photo by: Mira Sidhu

On the early morning of April 17th, the Academic Decathlon team headed off to the national competition in Frisco, just outside of Dallas, Texas. There, the team spent the next week studying, competing, and celebrating with teams and individual competitors from around the globe.

“We were gone for six days,” Jordan Neeley (11) said. “We had one day before the competition to study, and one day after to go on a tour of Dallas.”

The team had spent months preparing for the competition. Not only do they study in class, they spend hours outside of class finding information, and have several two-hour group study sessions each weekend. Students also practice for the speech, essay, and interview sections of the competition.

“Interview is definitely the hardest thing to prep for,” Neeley said. “You have no idea who you’ll talk to or what they’ll ask you. You have to think on your feet.”

The speech showcase hosted by the Academic Decathlon team on April 13 gave students the opportunity to practice their speech in front of a large audience. The showcase also served as a fundraiser to pay for the cost of the national competition, as well as other materials the team needs throughout the year. Some other ways the team raises money is by selling flowers and hosting a study-a-thon.

“My favorite fundraiser was the speech showcase,” Charlie Ross (11) said. “Students on the team, people who are competing as individuals, and other high-scoring students got to present.”

Nationals differs from the state and regional competitions in several ways. First, all trivia-based material, taken from the official Academic Decathlon materials binder, is tested beforehand online. At the competition, students only compete in the speech and interview portions. Nationals also has the Super Quiz, a team trivia contest that awards points based on speed and the accuracy of your answers. Whichever team wins the Super Quiz will have bonus points added to their overall score. Finally, at Nationals, students can compete as individuals if they aren’t chosen to be part of their school’s team, which only has room for nine members.

This year proved to be a challenging one for the Academic Decathlon team. For the first time, they competed in Division II rather than Division III, and were thus up against bigger schools. However, the team still brought home the title of Division II champions, and won second place overall in the nation.

“We did as well as we wanted to,” Rebecca Gentry (11) said. “We were up against bigger, more competitive schools, like those in California. It was close, but we won.”