We Are the Champions


Courtesy of Brandon Austin

Alexa Reyna, ENN Staff

Academic Decathlon allows students of all achievement levels to work together to compete in multiple subject matters and earn medals for their high scores. A competition for the mind.

Lake Ridge High School’s academic decathlon team, also known as AcaDec, made an appearance at the state contest for the fourth year in a row. This year was the first time the students competed in the 6A division. The team earned fourth place in regional with 20 medals. Jean Cook, junior, says the AcaDec team’s advancement to state was great and receiving the news was a dream come true.

“It felt really good. This was our first year being in 6A so we didn’t know how our scores compare to other scores and if our scores at regionals were high enough to get us there. So when I received the text that we got to state, it was amazing. It was everything I could have ever wanted,” said Cook.

Not only was state an experience of a lifetime for the team, but it was another exhilarating experience for AcaDec sponsor and AP European History teacher, Brandon Austin. Austin believes the AcaDec team worked hard and dedicated lots of time for them to make it to state.

“We’ve been to state four years in a row and this is the highest scoring team I’ve ever had in over a decade of doing this. But these kids worked hard the two highest scores I’ve ever had came off this team, Vivianne Nguyen and Caleb Athens, and I’ve never seen kids put that much time or effort into anything,” said Austin.

In addition to a seven-minute interview, a one-hour essay, and two speeches (four minutes prepared and two minutes impromptu), written comprehensive exams are given in music, art, literature, mathematics, economics, social science, and the “Super Quiz”. Austin says AcaDec is for kids who want to study, prepare, and compete mentally.

“A lot of them because they are competitive but maybe not in a athletic way, gives them a chance to be competitive in a way that they know that they can be successful. So AcaDec has a lot of different skills that are necessary to be good at it. You have to know how to study, you have to be an individualized learner, you have to own your own learning, you have to get over your fears, like being a public speaker, and things like that. There’s a lot of ways to push yourself, just the decathlete way and not the athletic way,” said Austin.

Some students join AcaDec for either a class credit or because they find the subject interesting and would like to be part of the official AcaDec team. Junior, Vivianne Nguyen, says she joined AcaDec because she thought it would be an interesting experience.

“I’m in AcaDec firstly because I thought the subject was interesting to me and in AcaDec on the team there are three A kids, three B kids, and three C kids. None of the questions were different for the A, B, or C kids so I felt like I had to prove to myself that I could do it and achieve. That to me is my main reason to prove to myself that if I’m in AcaDec, then I can do it and achieve,” said Nguyen.

Being in AcaDec can be overwhelming sometimes but students seem to mostly join the team for the experience or the interest in AcaDec. Austin Ward, junior, says AcaDec has progressed for him in the greatest way possible.

“Well it started with me interested in the class I never would have thought I would actually make the team. I started scoring higher and higher in all of my tests and at districts. I knew if I made a good enough score I would make the team,” said Ward.

AcaDec has been a grand experience for many students. From just joining the class for fun to making it on the AcaDec team and beyond, they have won perfect scores, medals, and self-confidence from each team member as a result of their efforts.