AcDec to compete at Irving invitational Nov. 16


Hailey Dirks

Sophomore Veronica Martin takes a multiple choice art test to prepare for the upcoming competitions. Martin is in the scholastic category.

Academic Decathlon will compete at the Irving invitational on Nov. 16. The team is having its first official competition on Dec. 14. to determine who will be competing at the district level.

“We all have our rivals because [within] the team we’re competing to be in the top three spots so that we can go to region and state as a nine member team,” AcDec captain junior Sammi Kwon said. “For me, my rivals are every other honors student out there. Everyone’s doing really well, so it’s not just one rival, it’s every single one of them.”

AcDec is split into three categories of competitors: honors, scholastic and varsity. These categories consist of people with similar grades and GPAs who compete with each other. The complete AcDec team is only nine students: three with a mostly straight A average (Honors category), three with an A/B average (Scholastic category) and three with a B/C average (Varsity category).

“This year, the group of students we have is pretty evenly spread between the three GPA categories required, so that’s awesome,” AcDec coach Donna Friend said. “In years past, we’ve had several Honors kids and not enough of the Varsity kids, for example. But this year, we have a better representation. This group is also very positive and very fun, and [AcDec coach Travis] Zuber and I are enjoying their energy and drive.”

An official AcDec competition takes two days. Typically, decathletes compete in essay, speech, interview and literature portions on the first day. These contests require them to write a 50 minute timed essay, give a prepared speech followed by an impromptu speech, participate in a seven minute interview and take a 50 question multiple choice exam over the literature topic for the year. 

“AcDec is almost all reading, and so the most challenging part is motivating students to read,” Friend said. “It can be a lot and overwhelming, and Mr. Zuber and I are very aware of that. Our job is to balance that intensity with some enjoyment in learning and plain fun.”

The following day, students will continue taking exams in the remaining six subjects: math, music, economics, science, art and social science. Five of those tests are also 50 question multiple choice tests; the math test has only 35 questions. All tests are 30 minutes each. Later in the afternoon on day two, the team competes in the Super Quiz competition where they answer questions in the seven objective areas. This is the only public portion of the competition. 

“A Super Quiz is basically a run through of all categories of subjects as a group and we do it at the end of most competitions,” Kwon said. “Varsity goes first, then Scholastic, then Honors, and whichever group gets the most questions right wins.”

At the regional and state meets, the two-day contest is concluded with an awards ceremony.

“After every single competition, whether we did good or bad, it’s the proud moments that we have of each other that matter,” Kwon said. “The coaches will come up to us and tell us that they’re proud of us and we all celebrate together. It’s really rewarding to see our team members go up and receive their medal and all of us are cheering them on and yelling their names.”

Brendan Glascock, the highest individual scorer in HHS history and an Honors student, graduated last year. Friend said there is potential for the current team to fill that void.

“Senior Diya Baby and junior Sammi Kwon were also on the Honors team with him last year, so they gained valuable experience and study skills from him that they are implementing daily this year,” Friend said. “The two of them together are a powerhouse, and we can’t wait to see what they achieve.”

Despite having to juggle learning seven subjects and three public speaking/writing events on top of coursework from their other classes, the team members are managing their time and work hard to bring their best every day.

“The camaraderie between the team is so special because on any given day, we can walk into the AcDec room and know that there will be someone willing to talk about existentialism, Cartesian philosophy and/or outrageously tall roller coasters,” co-captain junior Akshaya Kumetha said. “Our team is also much stronger than last year, so we’re looking to place top five in state.”