MHS team readies for Academic Decathlon
Most teenagers look forward to Saturday because they get some time to sleep. But for 10 Marysville High School students, last Saturday was no rest day. At 7:30 in the morning, the Academic Decathlon team made its way to the Sacramento Hyatt for the annual Northern California AcaDeca scrimmage.
They spent Saturday taking seven different multiple-choice tests. Despite some early difficulties, the team, along with English teacher and Academic Decathlon coach Angela Stegall and her parents, the team Mom and Dad, had a worthwhile practice competition experience.
Though it may seem odd that anyone would give up a Saturday morning for a test — well, a test that isn't necessary for college — students in AcaDeca are well accustomed to testing. They spend most of their free time preparing for county competition, another all-day Saturday event consisting of multiple-choice tests in seven different subjects, a memorized formal speech, an impromptu speech, an interview and a game-show-esque oral competition on the year's theme.
This year's theme is the French Revolution, and each of the objective tests relate to that theme. Objective tests include questions about 18th-century opera, Romantic literature, various chemical reactions, basic principles of microeconomics and macroeconomics, trigonometry and calculus, tenets of Neoclassical portraiture and French Revolution dates from the death of Louis XIV to the date Napoleon declared himself emperor.
This may sound like a lot of random information. It is.
Team captain Anna Wehrly, a senior and third-year team member, said that AcaDeca is "like finals all the time." But the decathletes find their methods to retain the information.
Christian Lopez, a junior and first-year team member, says that reading the chemistry section was somewhat brutal. "I finished it, though," he said. "I promised myself that I could have a cupcake if I read just four pages. After several cupcakes, I made it through the section."
Ka Bao Her, another junior and first-year team member, claims that she puts sections of the binder under her pillow at night. "I'm trying to learn by osmosis," she said, laughing.
Anna is infamous for reading out loud. Even though the material can be challenging at times, Academic Decathlon is a hugely positive experience overall.
Ka Bao says that AcaDeca has helped immensely in bettering her study skills. New team member Elyssia Niswonger, a sophomore, said, "Sometimes it's tough to balance homework with AcaDeca studying. But it's worth it."
Even though social lives are sacrificed for studying, Elyssia calls the team her family. Despite the extensive time commitment, Christian says that AcaDeca "is much better than any other club or sport on campus."
Marysville's AcaDeca team has about 50 more days until county competition. That's 50 days to study and eat and laugh and make up a sign language and eat some more. Come February, the team will be ready.
Karah Kemmerly is a senior at Marysville High School. Her column appears about every sixth week in Education.