JDHS Academic decathletes bring home the gold

Juneau-Douglas High School academic decathletes show off medals after coming in fourth as a school at the statewide 2014 Academic Decathlon.

Seven-thousand dollars and 14 medals: that’s what Juneau Douglas High School Academic Decathletes brought home from the 29th United States Academic Decathlon statewide competition sponsored by GCI.

Over the weekend, 170 students from around Alaska competed in Anchorage at the ‘Olympics of the mind.’ Decathletes compete in 10 categories: seven academic subjects, as well as essay writing, speech presenting and interviewing.

This year’s theme, World War I, introduced students to the art, music, history, economics and literature surrounding that time; they took tests in these subjects, along with science and math. They also had to present speeches, both prepared and impromptu, and undergo a rigorous interview session that mimics an authentic job interview.

Decathletes are divided into three categories based on Grade Point Average: Honors (3.75+), Scholastic (3.0-3.74), and Varsity (<3.0). The four highest scoring students statewide in each category win a scholarship to the school of their choice.

JDHS decathlete Elle Campbell placed first out of all varsity decathletes, winning a $4,000 scholarship.

Jasmine Brown won $2,000 and Kyle Short won $1,000 for placing second and fourth respectively in the scholastic category.

“I still can’t believe I won,” said Campbell. “This makes college a real possibility for me now.”

As the highest scoring JDHS student, senior Jasmine Brown also won an iPad Mini, narrowly winning over junior Michielle Corpuz by just seven points out of over 6,000.

The JDHS team’s impressive overall showing came despite losing a key team member due to a sports injury two days before the meet. Faced with this setback, the remaining decathletes rallied, placing fourth out of all the competing schools at State and doubling its medal count from last year. As a team, JDHS decathletes won medals in every subject bringing home seven gold, four silver, and three bronze medals.

Campbell and Short, both juniors, and all the other team members, have another shot at more scholarships next year. JDHS hopes to become a force to be reckoned with in the statewide competition that has been traditionally dominated by Fairbanks schools. The team has a few new openings vacated by its graduating seniors. Interested students should apply to the team’s head coach, Karina Reyes by emailing karina.reyes@juneauschools.org.

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