News and Events of the Bering Strait School District
Saturday November 25th 2017

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Academic Decathlon: Brevig Mission and Beyond

What do Ponzi schemes, plate tectonics, and Diego Rivera have in common? They were all covered in this year’s Academic Decathlon theme of The Great Depression.

On February 7, 8, and an unforeseen 9th, 18 Bering Strait students met in Brevig Mission to compete in ten academic categories, all having to do with the Great Depression. The Academic Decathlon is an annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon Association. The competition consists of seven multiple-choice tests, two performance events, and an essay. The ten events require knowledge in many academic disciplines, as well as reading a hefty novel–this year’s choice was The Grapes of Wrath.

Students complete 50 question tests in 30 minutes

The seven tests are in art, economics, language and literature, math, music, science and social science. The  relay event–known as the “Super Quiz” –is a multiple choice  final event. These topics, with the exception of math, are thematically linked each year. Previous topics have included The French Revolution, Latin America, and the Civil War.

Decathletes relax before the final event: The Super Quiz

Students spent months studying Depression-era art, music, social science, math, economics, literature and science in order to compete for gold, sliver and bronze medals in each category.

In between tests and essays, students shot hoops,practiced their speech and interview techniques, and listened to some Depression era blues on their iPods. A few  students whose previous competition was limited to athletics found the event surprisingly invigorating.

“Who says this is boring? Academic Decathlon is fun!” announced a novice decathlete from Stebbins.

Cody Murphy beams after a successful interview round

Academic Decathlon has been a Bering Strait District event for many years with varying levels of participation from schools. Savoonga has fielded a team for over a decade. This year’s team, coached by third year veteran Kristina Sieff, had many seasoned decathletes.  Brevig Mission’s lone contender Mary Crockett–coached by host Angie Alston–did so well in her first competition that she earned a place on the State team. White Mountain’s team was schooled by Sheri Skelton, a veteran decathlon coach. Stebbins team of 7 was instructed  by Karen Beranek. Each of the four schools placed students on the State team.

Savoonga: (not in order) Courtney Toolie, Tiffany Immingan,Ida Kava, Judy Pelowook,Jaylene Miklahook, Sheryl Noongwook, Darly Kingeekuk, Coach Kristina Sieff

Brevig Mission: Mary Crockett and coach (and gracious host) Angie Alston

White Mountain: Coach Sheri Skelton, Vincent Tomalonis, Samuel McElwee, Rayna Nassuk

Stebbins: Back row: George Otten, Jordan Otten, Cody Murphy. Front row: Deyonne Millgrock, Daphne Katcheak, Danielle Waghiyi, Justice Raymond.(Coach Karen Beranek photographer)

Due to weather issues preventing a return to everyone’s  respective sites, those earning  a place on the State team were up by seven a.m. Wednesday morning, and after a rousing breakfast of cornflakes and toast (and cold pizza), gathered in the Brevig Mission library to complete their timed on-line essays on the Steinbeck book, The Grapes of Wrath, which are submitted to the State judges in advance of the Anchorage competition.

The top 9 qualifiers at the Bering Strait District Competion were sent to Anchorage  for the Alaska State Academic Decathlon Competition, where they earned Second Place for the Small Schools competing in all Alaska, missing first place by a mere 137.7 points  with a total score of  23, 796.6.

This year’s team consisted of Mary Crockett (KTS), Samuel McElwee (WMO), Jaylene Miklahook (SVA), Cody Murphy (WBB), Rayna Nassuk (WMO), George Otten (WBB), Judy Pelowook (SVA), Vincent Tomalonis (WMO) and Danielle Waghiyi (WBB). Team Coach, Kristina Sieff (Teacher at Savoonga), and chaperone, Ed Becker (Asst. Principal at Stebbins) accompanied the team. In the past two years the Bering Strait Team has placed third in the Small Schools category.

Bering Strait State Academic Decathlon Team: Back row: Judy Pelowook, Cody Murphy, Danielle Waghiyi, Samuel McElwee, Vincent Tomalonis. Front row: George Otten, Jaylene Miklahook, Rayna Nassuk, Mary Crockett.

The Bering Strait School District salutes its decathletes district-wide, at every level of competition, including those who were unable to attend this year due to family emergencies and health issues.  See you next year!

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