Academic Decathlon team to compete at state meet March 6-7


Photo by Rachel Gonzalez

Senior Diya Baby studies art related to the plague during AcDec’s “hibernation” day on March 4. To prepare for the state meet on March 6-7, the AcDec team “hibernated” by spending the entire school day studying in room 1220 prior to leaving for San Antonio on March 5.

The Academic Decathlon team will head to San Antonio to compete in the state meet on March 6-7. The team advanced to state after placing third at the regional meet.

On Feb. 7-8 at Mesquite High School, the team set a school record for the most points at a regional meet with a score of 45,380. The team brought home 28 individual medals, a team medal for placing first in the Super Quiz and another team medal for placing third overall. Senior Diya Baby received a silver medal for being the second highest scorer, and junior Akshaya Kummetha got a bronze medal.

“It was really nice to score so well especially because last year I didn’t medal,” Baby said. “This year I came in wanting to do more, and I knew I was going to have to put in more effort than in the previous year.”

Academic Decathlon is a competition where students take seven tests, give two speeches, sit through an interview and write an essay. This year’s theme was illness and wellness; the students learned about the biology of cancer, the history of healthcare and analyzed art and music that dealt with life and death.

“Typically, the theme is a grounded event or a region, but twice they’ve gone a little more abstract,” AcDec coach Travis Zuber said. “Illness and wellness is a particularly difficult topic because you’re trying to connect a lot of various things together, which makes it harder for the students; it is a very big topic to get into. I think they’ve done a much better job this year at connecting the different categories together under one theme which makes it all fit nicely.”

This year’s team consists of six seniors, and most have been in the program all four years, which gives them experience other schools might not have. By being able to develop that sense of consistency in the program, students are able to grow and learn more as the years go on.

“A big part of it is recruiting,” Zuber said. “It is really important to go into classes and meet kids. A big portion of our team began as freshmen and have stayed with it for several years, which helps a lot; especially when they’re juniors or seniors competing because they already have that experience needed for tests, such as art, music, or economics. It is almost like a cycle, and once you get a good group, more good groups start to follow in the coming years.”

Each year, the state of Texas provides $150,000 in scholarship money to the Texas Academic Decathlon (TAD). This money is distributed amongst the top three teams and the five individuals with the highest scores at the state competition.

“As a team, we all really want to win a team scholarship,” junior Sammi Kwon said. “Although there is a lot of pressure when going to such a big competition, I think we will have fun as a team, and I can’t wait to compete against some of the best schools in the state.”

Last year, the AcDec team finished 36th at the state competition but, with success at the regional meet, the team said they believe they can achieve much more.

“At the beginning of the year we decided that we wanted to be top ten in the state,” Zuber said. “Currently we’re 11th, which isn’t bad, but I don’t think they’re ready to call it quits yet. We still have a lot of work to do, but I think they can achieve that goal.”