Bering Strait Academic Decathlon 2012
“The horror! The horror!” Kurtz’s dying words in The Heart of Darkness may have been echoing in students’ minds last week as they completed a battery of 7 tests, 1 timed essay and 2 interview and speech events at this year’s Academic Decathlon tournament in Stebbins.
On January 30 and 31, 28 Bering Strait students met in Stebbins to compete in ten academic categories, all having to do with the Age of Empire. 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 complex novel–this year’s choice was The Heart of Darkness. It sounds very dry, but decathletes describe the two day event as “intense”, “fun,” and “surprisingly exciting.”
Even though students realize they are competitors, there is a high level of camaraderie in the Decathlon. “I’m so nervous!” one student confessed to a competitor as she paced outside the room where she would give her speech. “Make sure you speak up,” she was advised. “You’ll be fine!” they assure each other as they wait for their scheduled time for speech and interview events. “You can do it!” “Remember to shake the interviewer’s hand!”
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 Great Depression, The French Revolution, Latin America, and the Civil War.
Students spent months studying the art, music, social science, math, economics, literature and science of Imperialism in order to compete for gold, sliver and bronze medals in each competitive category.
The top three decathletes in each category –Honors, Scholastic, and Varsity–will travel to Anchorage in February to compete in State Academic Decathlon: Nellie Okpowruk, Alan Kuzuguk (SHH), Svea Southall,, Talon Erickson, Laurel Katchatag (UNK), Charlie Ningeulook (GLV), Corrina Odinzoff, Mariah Washington, and Camille Katcheak (WBB).
Now the students have one question themselves: what’s next year’s topic?