Academic Decathlon’s search for participants

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Parmis Sahrapima, Web Co-Editor-in-Chief

Academic Decathlon, which distinguished itself by placing 14th in state this year, has been spreading the news in search of recruits for the upcoming school year. By distributing flyers throughout the entire school and visiting multiple classes to inform students about what Academic Decathlon is, they have successfully gained the interest of many students. Welcoming students of all GPAs who have a love for learning, Academic Decathlon will be holding an orientation with more information on May 22 in the Jon Cherney Lecture Hall.

A few weeks after the orientation, Academic Decathlon will begin interviewing possible candidates and talking to them individually. After the interviews, they will have the chosen candidates start studying for next year’s topic: Russia. These candidates will become a part of the Academic Decathlon class, and they will be competing to make the actual team, which is divided into the A, B and C group depending on the GPAs of the students. Those who do not make the actual team will then become a part of the junior team, helping the actual team make it to state and, hopefully, nationals.

“The recruitment process is essentially an evaluation of your testing aptitude, which is essential to the competition, your interest in learning, and how well you get along with people. These social skills are important for two of the subjective subjects: speech and interview. None of these things does a potential candidate need to be exceptionally good at, except for having a desire to learn–that is the key,” junior Heidi Hart said.

Those who do not make the actual team will then become a part of the junior team, helping the actual team by acting as a research crew and doing whatever they can to serve the needs of the team members. The junior members, who will also have to study the material on their own, will have an advantage when applying for the team the following year.

Hart has noted that Academic Decathlon is very helpful in improving the GPAs of its members due to the effective studying methods that members learn. She also believes that subjects like speech and interview can be adapted to since members are talking about something that they have knowledge about and about something that interests them.

“I put in a decent amount of effort, nothing to be especially proud of, and plan to put in a lot more next year. An interesting fact about Decathlon is that it increases the GPAs of 90 percent of the students who take part in it, simply by doing so much studying you are able to study more effectively for your regular classes. The good thing about speech and interview is that you are talking about something you know and something you are interested in; in interview yourself, and in speech the subject of your choice. It is hard to be nervous in speech when two of the three judges who are judging you are old ladies and laugh uproariously at the dirty jokes that are in your speech; mine was on George S. Patton,” Hart said.

Knowing that Academic Decathlon will be making way for new members, junior David Mnitsa advises new members to become comfortable around other team members and to develop certain qualities and thoughts that will help them improve and perform well as a part of the team.

“Don’t be intimidated by the other members. Everyone on the team is very nice and fun to talk to once you get to know him or her. When it comes to anxiety, you will never get rid of it, you just learn to stop it from interfering with your presentation. You just have to practice the speeches and you’ll be fine. Furthermore, be accepting of help. Try to ‘relinquish’ yourself to the serious, fun and studious atmosphere that we create so you can get a feel of how competitive this activity is. Also keep these thoughts in your head: I know almost nothing but I can learn almost everything. Basically, you should think that you always have a lot to learn but that you are capable of learning it,” Mnitsa said.

Junior Max Eagle also views Academic Decathlon as a competition requiring a lot of time and effort commitment, but also as fun and rewarding for those who love learning, competing and growing closer to teammates. Eagle also believes that the team can do much better next year because of the experience that the team members now have, along with having more time to prepare for the competition.

“Dedication is high. Treat it like a sport or other activity like theater, robotics, etc. It requires lots of time and effort, but it is quite rewarding. The experience is totally unique. You don’t really get to compete with students at your own school in any way like you can with Decathlon with other students from other schools. It is very fun and rewarding to spend time with interesting people while learning topics and themes not normally discussed in the high school curriculum. As a team, we’ll improve by working over the summer, dedicating more time, utilizing every resource possible, and practicing for various tests and speech and interview presentations with one another,” Eagle said.

Junior Eunice Choi also believes that she has become much more prepared for next year after all of the experience that she received this year. Because they were all new to the experience, Choi believes that the team as a whole will be much more prepared for the upcoming competitions.

“This year was a crucial step for me to prepare for next year because I didn’t really know what to expect. I really do think I could have put more effort into it this year, but I’m glad that everything happened the way it did because I’m now more mentally prepared for next year and know what’s coming. I now know how to utilize my time to put my utmost effort into the team next year,” Choi said.

Even though the end of the school year is approaching, Academic Decathlon is just starting out on its serious and yet fun journey to state. With such high goals, Academic Decathlon is looking for participants who are willing and motivated enough to take Beverly all the way to nationals. For more information, go to the orientation on May 22 or talk to Dina Yoseph in room S104.

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