On Dec. 5 and 6, academic decathlon students from Southeast Alaska pitted their mental prowess against each other in a grueling two-day testing marathon. Students tested their knowledge of early-American art and music, economics, math, language arts, botany and history - specifically the Lewis and Clark expedition, which will be celebrating its bicentennial in 2004.
These students also gave prepared and impromptu speeches, subjected themselves to mock interviews, and wrote an essay under time constraints. These are self-motivated kids whose participation in this competition is driven more by an innate desire to challenge themselves in their educational achievements than by grades. Academic Decathlon is not a class, although it should be. Everything these decathletes are exposed to enhances their mental acuity. Every year, AcaDeca focuses on a different theme so the students study so many ideas and a variety of information. There is no room for boredom or mental stagnation. Our Juneau decathletes are truly admirable.
The Academic Decathlon team would like to thank those who helped make our tournament a success. Special thanks go to the following individuals who spent their Saturday morning judging the speech and/or interview section of the competition and helping with the details of running a tournament: Andrew Bauer, Diane Baxter, Mike Boyer, Brad Brinkman, Karen Doxey, Kim Elton, Matt Fishel, Jeanne Foy, Ann Gifford, Jay and Jane Ginter, Debbie Hemenway, The Meyer family (Amber, Molly, Debbie, and Lee), Dirk Miller, Doreen Shaw, Alan Schorr, Daniel Peterson, Laury Scandling, Julia Smith and Leon Vance.
Thanks also goes to Bill Stenberg of the University of Alaska Southeast for hosting a pizza lunch for the tournament participants, and Sandi Wagner for being such an efficient athletic director. It takes the effort and cooperation of many people to have such a successful tournament.
Karin C. Reyes is the Juneau-Douglas High School Academic Decathlon advisor.