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This team goes in depth on academic topics and friendships

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This team goes in depth on academic topics and friendships

This team goes in depth on academic topics and friendships

Few if any classes have this kind of competitive tilt to them.  

From the summer topic reveal and resource guides, to the everyday fifth-period class overseen by Ann Kotopka, students in Academic Decathlon – commonly referred to as AcaDeca - go in depth on the given topic. 

"The atmosphere in AcaDeca is a lot different from other clubs that you join because everyone is similarly minded, and we are all nerds," junior Anna Kruger said. "But we have lot of fun." 

This year, the topic is Africa, which is huge both physically and historically. It's also somewhat of an unknown based on available courses. But it hasn't stopped these students. 

"I have a class with all of my friends, we study the same thing, travel together, and have our inside jokes," junior Gabriel Clark said. 

This week, 32 of them traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit museums, including the African Art Museum, to see first-hand the art that captures much of the African history, as well as its cultural and present-day narratives. 

"The main focus of the DC trip was the trip to the Smithsonian African Art Museum," Kotopka said. "Our group was allowed into their conservation department to view one of our pieces, a Pwo mask from the Chokwe people in Angola. We were able to view it up close and personal, with no glass barrier. We had studied this piece in class, molded it ourselves out of play dough, and discussed the use and function of the mask. To see it right in front of us was incredible." 

For the competition, the teams are divided to include students from various academic achievement, based on GPA. Each high school enters a team of nine students: 3 'A' or Honor students (3.750 - 4.00 GPA), 3 'B' or Scholastic students (3.00 - 3.749 GPA), and 3 'C or below' Varsity students (0.00 - 2.999 GPA). 

In scrimmages – the competitions leading up to the state, regional and national events – consists of written tests for the team members, and a quiz-bowl like competition where questions come quickly, and hopefully answers do, too. 

AcaDeca covers 10 subject areas: art history, interview, science, language and literature, music, math, social science, essay, speech and economics. 

Junior Audrey Aschoff said since she started as a ninth-grader, she's added knowledge and friends. 

"I didn't know anyone, then you get a whole bunch of new friends, and then you travel together, and then it's really like immersion," Aschoff said. "You go to art museums, you see the pieces you have been talking about it, and it's really fun to see your progress, too." 

Kruger said the pieces of information start to build on top of each other. Past topics included World War II and India. 

The resource guide "includes the history of the people that created the piece, we are not just learning art, but about the people that made it," she said. 

Aschoff adds: "Once we move on to other sections, I can say, 'Oh yeah, I remember about those people,' and then expand on each subject." 

Pius X has a strong recent history in academic decathlons: 

  • 2017 - fourth in large school division 

  • 2015 – second in medium school division 

  • 2014 – fifth in medium school division; 15th overall 

Pius X • 6000 A St. • Lincoln, NE 68510 • 402-488-0931 • Fax: 402-488-1061

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