AcDec places fifth at state


Eyesha Sadiq

Seniors Kaden Nguyen, Collin Smith, Serena Cavanaugh and Caroline Burrow clap while being honored at the pep rally on March 1 for winning fifth place at state on Feb. 26. This is Hebron’s first time placing in the top five at state.

The Academic Decathlon team (AcDec) placed fifth overall and had individual medalists at the state convention in University of Incarnate Word in San Antonio on Feb. 24-26; this is Hebron’s first time placing in the top five at state.

“[This was] our highest finish ever,” AcDec coach Donna Friend said. “[To make top five] was our goal of the year. The margin between us and fourth place was so close, but that’s how it goes sometimes, [which] was really exciting.”

There are 10 events that all nine students on the AcDec team compete in. The students compete based on their GPA and are split into three groups. The events consist of giving a speech, writing an essay and seven multiple choice question tests based on specific subjects correlating with the theme. This year’s theme was “The American Revolution.”

“There has definitely been a lot of growth, especially this year,” senior Serena Cavanaugh said. “The team has more camaraderie and is unified as a whole. Last year, it felt like there were two distinct groups on the team, so it didn’t feel [like a] united team. But this year, it definitely is. Everyone is friends with each other and we all go to study sessions and hang out outside of school. When one of us gets a medal [or] one of us succeeds, it feels like the whole team is doing really well.”

The subjects being tested on are math, music, economics, science, art, literature and social science, with 30 minutes to answer 50 questions on the majority of the tests, but math having 35 minutes. This year, AcDec won in district and regional competitions. The top 40 schools go to the state competition in San Antonio and the next tier of 40 schools go to a different competition in Frisco.

“State is really high-level, and it’s challenging [to] compete [in it],” AcDec coach Jeanette Rooks said. “We won at regionals, but to get to that level of state, it meant [we needed to] keep learning [to] catch up with some of those top tier teams. Our school has never made it [to] the top five, so when they announced it, you could see everyone jump up with excitement. It was a great moment.”

Every year, AcDec students are given packets that are 100–150 pages per subject. Friend and Rooks assign extra readings to study the material. Freshman and sophomore students can join the JV team, Octathlon, which consists of only seven subjects.

“The content is really dense,” Rooks said. “We had been through all of that content for regional, but to get ready for state, we had to go back to it. We had to dig a little deeper and find details that we are looking for and push [ourselves] to be prepared thoroughly for those subjects.”

Next year’s topic for AcDec will be “Technology and Humanity.” Due to not making first overall at state, AcDec’s season this year has come to an end. With only seniors on the current team, AcDec will have all new students for their competitive team next year.

“We are very fortunate that we have some sophomores and juniors that [were] close to making our team [this year] that want to come back,” Rooks said. “They enjoyed helping the team prepare and are anxious to come back to have that same opportunity and excitement for themselves. They are ready to start [preparing] in the summer.”