A Battle of the Brains

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by Ali Strand

The Westborough High School Academic Decathlon team competed in its first competition on Saturday, November 22nd at Ashland High School. While the team was not able to move on to the state competition, as only the top three teams advance, the members came back to WHS with a goal accomplished and a proud advisor. Ms. Pelletier, the teacher in charge of academic decathlon, had set the goal of ranking higher than last year’s 11th place finish. This year out of the 15 schools in the division the team came in 10th place. Since the team met its goal, the event was a success.

While the team as a whole helped accomplish the intent of the match, only the scores of the nine varsity players counted. This year the varsity students were Alex Cincotta, Nick Fotos, C.J. Holland, George Lee, Paul Min, Andrew Moon, Sammy Pierre-Vil, Mark Saver, and Shannon White. These nine players were equally successful on both the Super Quiz and the paper and pencil tests.  In the super quiz the players go up one by one against each participant at their level to answer questions in front of all the schools. Two students starred for WHS in the competition.  Those students would be Paul Min and C.J. Holland; Min coming back with a silver medal in math, and Holland doing very well on the Super Quiz. Even though it was the varsity players scores that truly counted, they weren’t the only ones that really stepped it up for the competition. “Cat Mulcahy was our team cheerleader but that was no surprise! She got everyone motivated and pumped up,” says Pelletier. Mulcahy acts as the motivator of the group to keep the team’s spirits up.

The accomplished goal was not the only thing that the team took away from the event. New strategies and techniques from other teams were also brought back. To prepare for this competition the academic decathlon team had originally met bi-weekly and was organized into smaller study groups to allow the students to share the study materials. However, a new strategy that was discovered is to have an “in-school” field trip the day before the competition. Other schools had provided this as a way to have an all day study session to prepare for the event the following day. Pelletier hopes to use these newfound strategies for next year’s  competition and get a head start at the end of this school year instead of waiting until the beginning of next year.

Even with the joy of coming back with a higher ranking, there were some unfortunate occurrences with the new testing system of the decathlon. “There were some glitches in the new testing system, which resulted in a fair amount of chaos at the end of the day, as well as a delay in the reporting of scores,” says Pelletier. In addition to the problems of the system, there was also some confusion about missing scores that were not recovered which would have moved the WHS team higher up in the rankings. Although the competition did not go as smoothly as predicted, the team still pulled together and cheered each other on. According to Pelletier, this is the best part of the event.