Give Your Mind a Workout

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by Ali Strand 

Imagine the amount of homework given to a student throughout the day. There’s the basic math, English, science, and history, plus electives. Now imagine that same work load with extra studying on music, art, biology, language and literature, social science, and math. Sounds like hard work, right? Well for the students on the academic decathlon team this is typical labor. Their strength to carry out this responsibility exceeds that of most. However unlike the basketball or football teams, their muscles and their determination show in their minds instead of in their biceps.

Every year a group of students in any grade, with any grade average, go to the regional competition in hopes of moving on to states, and then progressing to nationals. The history of the decathlon team at this school shows that they have yet to make it past the regional meet in recent years, coming in 11th place at the last competition. However the previous record acts as a great motivator for the teacher in charge of this club, Ms Pelletier. “I would like to try to improve upon the last years, because the results were not all that impressive. My goal is for the team to reach third place or better at regionals,” says Pelletier. The 32 members of the team are onboard with Pelletier’s goal, and although only the scores of the nine varsity students’ count, the members on the alternative team cheer on their teammates in hopes of bringing back a win.

The members on the academic decathlon team persevere when faced with a difficult challenge, determined to win. The team meets every other Wednesday to study and prepare but for some students this is not enough time, so they form individual groups and create extra study sessions. All of the teammates go to the regional meet from 8 AM to 4:30 PM to take six paper and pencil tests and to watch a super quiz at the end where the varsity students participate. After each test there is a small break before the next one to fit in some massive cram sessions. The Westborough team can get pretty competitive; some members are because they want to make sure they’re on varsity, while others are competitive just for the fun of it. However they all support and help each other, just like any other team.

A main stereotype given to all academic teams is that only nerds or straight “A” students are on them. Well, to make it perfectly clear this is a complete hoax. The academic decathlon team takes students with any grade average, in fact, it’s required. For each team within the nine varsity students there are three “A” students, three “B” students, and three “C” students. Each member competes against others in their level, but are asked the same questions as every other level. “The beauty of academic decathlon is that everyone can do it… As long as you show commitment and effort you’re on the team,” says Pelletier.