Two local schools qualify for State Academic Decathlon
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Two Green Bay high schools, East and Southwest, will represent the area at this year’s State Academic Decathlon Competition in Wisconsin Dells March 12-13, after finishing first and second in the regional competition last month.
“Green Bay public schools are dedicated to making our students college-, career- and community-ready,” said Laura Staloch, Southwest Academic Decathlon coach. “Success in academics supports all three of those goals. The academic school day provides all students the cognitive and problem-solving skills they will need to create a meaningful life.”
This year’s East High School decathlon team grabbed the first place title, with Southwest in second.
“We kind of set the goal to win the regional competition this year, but when they start handing out the individual awards, the kids start to think that maybe we did not do very well,” said Matt VandenHouten, Green Bay East decathlon coach. “When they announced we had won, the kids were super pumped.”
East and Southwest have both made it to state in past years, but two Green Bay schools taking the first and second spots is an accomplishment.
Each decathlon team consists of nine full-time students – three honor students (3.75 to 4.0 grade point average, or GPA), three scholastic students (3.0 to 3.74 GPA) and three varsity students (0 to 2.99 GPA).
This year’s East team consisted of six girls and three boys – mostly juniors and seniors with one freshman.
This year’s Southwest team is actually short two members, competing with only seven students – five girls and two boys, all seniors and juniors.
“We are down two members this year, and without those members earning points, we did not think we could make it to the state competition,” Staloch said. “We were completely surprised.”
During competition, all students take tests in math, science, social science, economics, art, music and language and literature.
“The Academic Decathlon is a different type of competition,” VandenHouten said. “They do all of these the day of the competition.”
Students also go through a formal interview, give a prepared speech and make an impromptu speech.
The top two scores in each of the three levels determine the team score.
“On the day of the competition, the kids take three tests to start and then they have a window of a few hours to go through the interview and speech process,” VandenHouten said. “They then conclude with four more tests. Then at the end of the day, they give out the individual and team awards.”
VandenHouten said the state competition will run like the regional, with the addition of the Super Quiz.
“The Super Quiz is where one kid from each of the competing schools is called up to the stage and have to answer five questions in front of a whole hall of people,” he said. “It is the only part of the state competition that is open to the public to see. We try to prepare the kids for that.”
VandenHouten said the impact on students following the Academic Decathlon is long-lasting.
“In Academic Decathlon, I have had many students come back and say the speech and interview process was something they have used later in life, and it was something they found value in,” he said. “Being a former basketball coach, I can see the value in both sports and academics. Most kids playing sports will learn lessons from the sport they play, but it may not end up in a scholarship or a career. You will always use the academic portion throughout your life. You may not remember every little fact, but the skills you developed in research, reasoning and problem-solving will have a long-term impact.”
Staloch said she couldn’t agree more.
“Green Bay public schools prepared students at both East and Southwest to dominate the regional Academic Decathlon Competition,” she said. “This is something we should be incredibly proud of.”
Here is a list of the individual winners from each team.
• Maren Parks – first in speech, third in music, social science and interview.
• Taylor Gillis – first in essay, second in interview, third in economics.
• Peter Kiernan – first in math, second in speech, third in literature, art, economics and social science, also third overall in the honor category.
• Lydia Munchoff – second in economics and science, third in math, also third overall in the scholastic category.
• Annika Ostrowski – second in essay.
• Brian Muro – first in literature, third in social science.
• Lucas Brunette – second in essay and third in literature, also second overall in the varsity category.
• Clara Lehto – first in literature and music, second in art and third in interview.
• Madeline Warpinski – second in interview, third in art and speech.
• Ben Fredeen – second place overall winner – honor division, second for essay, art, economics and math, first in music.
• Kelley Zhang – second in economics.
• Miria Verma – second in math and economics and third in art.
• Isaiah Clark – second in literature and third in speech and music.
• Luke Pisani – first place overall winner – varsity division, first in speech and art, and second in science and literature.
• Nate Klein – second in math and economics.