Northside Academic Decathlon Participates in the USAD 2018 Nationals
by Alex Perman
Academic Decathlon flew to Frisco, Texas for the annual United States Academic Decathlon National competition. The NCP team practiced the entire year for the three day long event, from April 18-21. The current team members include Khan Shah, Adv. 005, Tyler O’Brien, Adv. 909, Justin Schechter, Adv. 905, Mackeda Sahelu, Adv. 905, Christine Alex, Adv. 903, Tian Luo, Adv. 008, and Tania Haque, Adv. 906. All competitors traveled to the event to participate in an assortment of tests and trivia quizzes. Schechter gave the rundown of how the competition went for the Northside team.
Northside finished in twelfth place out of eighteen teams. The Academic Decathlon team is broken down into three subsections based on overall GPA. Each team member takes a total of ten tests, which cover a diverse range of subjects including math, science, social science, art, music, interview, speech, essay, literature, and economics. Each test takes 50 minutes to complete, except for interview, speech, and essay. In interview, participants are asked questions to display their social skills. Speech entails an impromptu portion that takes about one and a half to two minutes to perform, as well as a three and a half to four minute prepared section. Essays are given out as a prompt that are responded to and submitted online. All of the subjects relate to a common theme each year. This year, the theme was all about the continent of Africa. The top two scores in each subsection are tallied up at the end to determine the final score. In addition, there are also four divisions based on the size of the school. The fourth division, which is for smaller schools, was added recently and was the one Northside competed in.
A total of 80 schools from around the world attended the event including schools from China and the United Kingdom. In addition to tests, there was also a trivia-style event called “Superquiz.” This competition had schools compete against each other in real-time. Presenters asked multiple choice questions and students had ten seconds to solve them. By the end of the competition, Northside placed twelfth in their division, and Sahelu earned a silver medal in the speech event by having a near perfect score. In the division for large schools, Whitney Young, another Chicago Public School, placed third.
Outside of competing in major events, the Academic Decathlon team meets during colloquium to practice for other competitions and learn new material. The team is coached by Mr. Golden, Social Science Department, who gives slide presentations containing the information on the different subjects based on a set curriculum supplied by the United States Academic Decathlon organization. Schechter mentioned that one of his favorite parts about being part of Academic Decathlon are the teammates he gets to play with. Everyone on the team is supportive, encouraging, and want to see each other succeed academically.
In terms of other events, the team had previously competed in city, regional, and statewide competitions. The team finished 3rd in both the city and state competitions. Schechter plans to continue with Academic Decathlon as a senior and hopes that next years’ team will express the same level of determination and enthusiasm as in the past. Schechter also suggested that those who want to become part of the Acadec team would get the best experience by starting at the beginning of the year in order to learn the most material and participate in the greatest number of competitions. For more information about how to get involved with Acadec, students are welcomed to reach out to Mr. Golden or anyone else on the team.