Learning for achievement

Academic Decathlon competes at district


Decathletes attend the Academic Decathlon district competition on Saturday, Dec. 14. Courtesy of Amber Counts.

Starting off with the first competition of the year, Academic Decathlon competed at district on Saturday, Dec. 14 at Marcus High School. The day-long event, consisting of seven different tests that ran an hour and a half each, was a successful competition for the class. 

“It went well as preparation competition,” senior Matthew Abernathy said. “We could of probably done better, [but] it was still a good practice. [It showed] us what we can do.”

Coached by English teacher Amber Counts and pathophysiology teacher Rebecca Delozier, the pair help their students build up studying techniques, like annotating long pieces of reading. Learning how to handle the long, intensive competitions is made possible with these two teachers.

“We develop inside jokes and we become a little family over the course of the semester,” Counts said. “Our decathletes represent the culmination of all the education they’ve received at LHS, and because they are students who love learning, it is a pleasure to work with them.”

While it’s simply a filler period some students grow to love, like Abernathy, others try it out after being recommended by several other teachers. Senior Chelsea Stephenson was unsure of joining during her junior year, but with the influence of her teachers, she joined.

“For me, I enjoy learning things and I also wanted to build up my own character traits, like leadership,” Stephenson said. “[I wanted] to get myself back into socializing.”

These decathletes usually compete in 10 different categories, including music, art, economics and speech. Their competition at Marcus only included seven of them, following the theme of ‘The History of Illness and Wellness.’

“[The tests take] a lot of mental switching back and forth between different topics,” Abernathy said. “Trying to go as fast as you can, memorizing as many facts as you can.”

The students have a long way until their next event, region at Mesquite High School in February, but they continue to increase practice time. The decathletes prepare for the rigorous two-day competition with the help of their two coaches. 

“It doesn’t sound glamorous, but we study,” Counts said. “We try to think of fun ways to do this, too. Of course, we read and take practice quizzes, but we also play games. [Also], we just had a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art.”