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High School Scholars maintain win streak

Frank Fisher, of the Record staff

For those who don’t know that Ruan Xian was one of the seven sages of the Bamboo Grove (a group of Chinese Daoist scholars), or who are unable to identify his instrument, the Raun, by the sound it makes, may struggle answering other questions on 2,000-3,000 pages of Chinese culture, likely common knowledge to Park City High Schools Academic Decathlon team.

The team overwhelmingly bested all other high schools in the state in a recent competition, and are now headed for the National competition in Hawaii.

"We scored higher than we’ve ever scored," said Academic Decathlon coach John Krenkel.

The PCHS Academic Decathlon team is made up of nine students. Each year a focal topic is presented to participating schools. The topic for the 2007-08 school year is Chinese history since 1945. Each student has to become an expert in all 10 testing subjects, hence, the decathlon reference.

The 10 subjects include history, science, math, language, art history, literature, economics, and special categories of speech, interview and essay.

It all starts in the spring of the previous school year, when students interested in trying out for the team, were given tomes of information on Chinese culture, and expected to read The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck, over the summer months. In the fall of 2006, the students were given a short test to pre-qualify. Twenty three students enrolled in Krenkel’s AD class. Nine students were chosen for the team by their test scores.

Team members average three hours per day preparing for four competitions held throughout the school year.

What puts an interesting twist on the competition is that three members of the team are required to have 3.75-4 GPA’s, three 3-3.75, and three under 3.0.

"The greatness of the team depends on those with under the 3.0," Krenkel said. He said sometimes those members rise to the occasion and score higher than those with higher GPA’s. He thinks they love competition.

The AD team will compete in the Nationals this spring, in Hawaii. Krenkel said about 40 teams will likely compete. If Krenkel has a frustration, it has to do with budget cuts. In the past, team travel was paid for by the district. This year, one-half the money has to be raised privately. Next year, all funds will have to come from donations.

"Our survival will come back to community support," he said. "I have a lot of confidence that people in the community will come together."

Krenkel believes AD is important to PCHS, as performance of the AD team is a major criterion for judging a school academically.

Krenkel also believes the AD is important to the students’ futures. "Kids often come off the AD team and go on to top schools like Harvard, Yale and Duke, Kerenkel said.

Krenkel is obviously proud of his team, and is proud of his 24 years of coaching, 14 of those teams having won the state competition. He became involved with AD when former PCHS principal Jack Dozier told him, "You’re going to do it." "Nobody argues with Jack," Krenkel said.

This year’s AD team members are: Nichole Rosecrans, Patrick O’Malley, Patrick Paterson, Jonathon Draxton, Robert Florance, Nick Naro, Anna Amici, Danialle Ronnow, Colin Eikenberry. Assistant coaches Ed Potts and Matt Nagel have helped prepare the team.

To donate to the Acedimic decathlon, leave a message on John Krenkle’s voice mail at Park City High School , 649-5650


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