Park City High School takes second at United States Academic Decathlon
The Park City High School (PCHS) Academic Decathlon team took second place in overall performance for a school in their division, but the real story may have been the success of individual students at the national tournament held last week in California.
The team finished eighth overall in the national contest with a total score of 46,529.6. In Division III, the subset for smaller schools, PCHS won second behind Madison Academic High School of Tennessee, a magnet school. This marks the second year that Madison scored just ahead of PCHS. In the individual competition Oral Super Quiz, PCHS took the second-place trophy as well. This competition, however, was ranked without regard for division, so PCHS took second out of all the entered schools.
The team members who attended the trip were: Patrick Paterson, Jonathan Draxton, Hayden Ward, Tyler Needham, John Eckels, Gabrielle Dougherty, Katherine Paterson, Nick Naro and Jonathan Kamenetz, Individually, PCHS students recorded a banner year. Draxton, Patrick Paterson and Naro all scored over 8,000 points. Patrick Paterson won five subject medals, Draxton won two and Katherine Paterson, Tyler Needham and Hayden Ward each took one. Patrick Paterson also finished with the highest score on the team and the highest for any entrant in his competitive category.
The team left for the national competition on April 30 after qualifying in the state decathlon this past March. Less than a day after settling in to their hotel rooms in Garden Grove, California, the team entered competitions in math, art, language and science. Each of these tests included around 50 questions and was conducted in multiple-choice format and scored out of a possible 1,000 points.
The rest of the trip was devoted to three remaining subject tests, an interview and prepared speeches. The Oral Super Quiz counted as the tenth and final event.
To create team scores, the top two student performances from each of the three entrant levels are combined. Levels are determined by a student’s academic performance during their sophomore year. Students with the highest GPA compete in the Honors category, students who maintain a lower, but still A-range GPA compete in the Scholastic level and students who achieve an approximate B average compete in the Varsity category. As each student scores in ten events, a total of six scores counts towards each team’s total. Consequently, a perfect score would be 60,000 overall points. This year, the top team, Moorpark High School from California broke the record for highest score making it a particularly tough year at the tournament.
Withstanding this tough competition, PCHS showed major improvement by besting their score from the state tournament by approximately 3,000 points. The second place overall finish in the Oral Super Quiz also marked a major victory for the team as they came in just behind Moorpark.
All the students on the team have prepared for this test since May of last year and Tyler Needham said "the best part for me (is) the massive accomplishment (that comes from) realizing what you’ve done." For these students, the national tournament is the sum of 11 months of work said Nick Naro.
Next year, the team will return a handful of juniors and will look to repeat their success at the national tournament. Hayden Ward, a junior, is already looking forward to it. "Doing Academic Decathlon is a way to display and compete individually ( the merits of my intelligence) regardless of GPA," Ward said.
This year also marked the last that John Krenkel will serve as coach of the team. He will retire at the end of the year.
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