Academic Decathlon team takes first in their division | ParkRecord.com

Academic Decathlon team takes first in their division

Dale ThompsonOf the Record staff

In March, when the Academic Decathlon Team took first in state, Coach John Krenkel said he wanted to bring home a gold banner from the National Competition in San Antonio, Texas. At the end of April they got to do just that.

"That’s what we went there for," said Krenkel.

The banner was awarded to the team for taking first in its division, last year they took third in the same category. Overall, the team placed tenth.

"It feels great," said senior Derek Painter who added the victory took, "a lot of work and a lot of patience."

Painter is one of two people currently on team to have been there since they were sophomores. At nationals he took second overall on the team and noted the Academic Decathlon team is unique in the top 10.

"We’re the only team in the top 10 that doesn’t have a class," he said.

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Instead, they commit their time after school for prepare for competitions.

Yasmeen Hussain, a senior, was the top scorer on the team and one of 12 students out of 300 to participate in the speech showcase at the national competition.

"It was good because we worked for it," she said.

The team has been practicing since last June, when they received their study materials covering the European Renaissance.

Jane Crosby, a senior, traveled to the competition with her interpreter and placed third overall in the scholastic category, those with a g.p.a. of 3.0 to 3.75.

"It’s exciting," she said.

Crosby, or DJ as her teammates call hers, also earned a 957 out of a possible 1000 points on her speech which covered how, as a deaf student, she uses cued speech in her classes to understand complicated concepts that are difficult to translate to sign language.

The work they had to do to prepare included a great deal of reading, and familiarizing themselves with a classic playwright.

"We had to read two Shakespeare plays and we had to read two poems," Crosby said as she listed several other materials that covered music, economics and literature.

Other individual victories include Shane Marcus taking third overall in the category of students with less than a 3.0 g.p.a., and Patrick Paterson, a sophomore placed second overall in the scholastic category.

"The most difficult thing is to stay focused and prepare. These are really challenging, in-depth studies," Krenkel said.

Part of the victory is due to their having a number of older students on the team.

"We had a very experienced team, we have seven seniors on the team, two of them have been on (it) for three years," Krenkel said.

He also credits their intelligence.

"These are bright students," he said, adding the students knew what they had to do to earn their gold banner.

Krenkel said at nationals the team had the opportunity to mingle and become friends with some of the brightest students in the country.

In an e-mail assistant coach Heidi Matthews said their victory had a huge impact on the team.

"I do think that this will be a defining time for all of these students," she said.