Academic Decathlon is one of the most unique classes Pius X has to offer. With a new topic every year and different subjects every few weeks, the class is always changing.
Academic Decathlon is comprised of several different elements, including the class, a group of kids studying for local scrimmages, and a team that competes in state and national competitions.
“It’s not an easy class, but it’s not as hard as you think,” sophomore Academic Decathlon student Magdalen Seeman said. “I know a lot of people think it’s a stereotypical smart person class, but it’s not. The teachers make it very easy for you to find the information and learn it very well.”
Lots of students taking Academic Decathlon only participate in the class, but some students also participate in scrimmages in the fall. These students meet during their fifth period study hall to prepare.
“Any student can go to a scrimmage, and everybody’s goals will be different,” Academic Decathlon coach and teacher Ann Kotopka said. “We have a number of freshmen and sophomores this year that are only going to try to medal in one area.”
The students agree that the coaches do a tremendous job preparing them for the scrimmages. Most students even bring home several medals after each event.
The coaches included Mike Katalenich who works with the students during fifth period and Ann Kotopka who both coaches and teaches the class.
“It’s really easy to medal so you can get lots of medals if you just attend the scrimmages,” senior Academic Decathlon student, Clairvaux Villa said. “Regionals have a lot of chances to medal, too, especially if you’re not officially on the team. Last year when we got to nationals, almost everybody on the team medaled.”
Another aspect of Academic Decathlon is the team, in which only a certain number of students can qualify. The team studies all the subjects and competes in state-wide and sometimes even national competitions.
The Academic Decathlon team is composed of students from all areas of the academic spectrum. One-third of the team is made up of students with a B- or lower average, one-third must have a B average, and only one-third has an A average.
“We give the opportunity for kids that don’t normally identify themselves as being high achieving students that experience where they are absolutely recognized for their academic achievement,” Kotopka said.
The students on the team put a lot of time and effort into preparing for the competitions, and it pays off. Five of the fourteen years Kotopka has been coaching, the team has made nationals, including last year, where they placed fourth in their division.
This year, the team is working extra hard in hopes of winning nationals, which will be held in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
“We got a good foundation last year, and I think this year we can really bring it home,” Villa said. “It would be a really fun way to close out my four years of AcaDeca.”
Though the students enjoy excelling in the competitions, they all agree that the best part of the class and team is the group of kids involved.
“The people are very open and very fun,” senior Academic Decathlon student Thomas Subiabre said. “They’re very encouraging, and if you need help with a question, they’ll be there to help you.”