District implements Academic Decathlon programs


Photo By: Izabella DeLaGarza

A portion of the Academic Decathlon team studies with each other to prepare for a competition. The program was implemented in the district this school year.

A new team has made itself known on campus.

Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Ball spoke to the high school principals in the district about having academic decathlon teams at each campus, and the plan went through. Now, it has rung in success and involvement for multiple students.  

“It was something that was just implemented at Judson High School and it’s something I’ve wanted to do since I got here. It just seemed really fun, [and I would get to] meet new people, people that I connect with in a way,” senior Zayne Grogan said.

The team is coached by teachers Ms. Jennifer Lopez, Ms. Tina Jones, Mr. Brian Hooper, and Mrs. Ann Hooper. They travel to campuses and compete against other schools by taking seven tests, each spanning over different subjects: math, science, social studies, economics, literature, art, and music. They are also interviewed and give speeches.

“[I like] getting to go to different schools and compete,” Grogan said. “It’s something that I’ve always enjoyed, more subjects than others, but I can specialize in this, in two subjects that I like personally.”

The students can earn medals and even scholarships based on how well they do at the competition. The medals contribute to the overall team score they have.

“It works kind of like wrestling – wrestling of the minds really. You can get your individual medals, but those medals also count towards the team’s score,” Brian Hooper said.

The students’ skills and reputations they have started building can also affect their college opportunities and their individual selves.

“It all looks good on a [college] resume,” Hooper said. “And just studying topics, teaching you how to study in depth a variety of topics, makes you a more well-rounded person as well.”

The coaches take joy in seeing their team use their skills in a new outlet, away from the normal high school environment.

“I’m just enjoying watching the students compete. It’s the first time that a lot of these students have even considered a concept of competing based on their mental merit other than their GPA, other than their class rank. Now, they’re able to test their skills,” Hooper said.

They also know that this is preparing the students for higher education after graduating.

“I like what the students are getting because I see what they’re getting is an enhanced education. They’re starting to see what studying looks like for college,” Hooper said.

A new organization on campus means new opportunities and successes, which the Academic Decathlon team has proven to be true, but they have only just begun.