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> Why Decathlon?
AJohn
post Jan 25 2012, 04:29 AM
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As I'm sure anyone involved in AcaDec is aware, it's quite a bit of work. So I have a single simple question: what about Academic Decathlon is so rewarding to you that it's worth putting in enough effort to study or even coach? I'm curious what you all think.
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blondie13
post Jan 25 2012, 04:40 AM
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When I was young, I saw Waukesha West take the national championship. Every year after that, I saw the students succeed and was inspired. As a kid with arthritis, acadec was a "sport" that even I could participate in. When I got to high school, I found a role model I latched onto. Joanna Wu was in the top choirs, the president of our Key Club, and on the academic decathlon team. I wanted to be just like her.

My senior year I made the team and my biggest inspiration was to uphold the WW name and prove myself to everyone who said that I couldn't do it. Soon, studying became FUN and I took pleasure in impromptu speaking and interviews. It got to the point that when I didn't have to study anymore, I didn't know what to do with myself.

Eventually I'd like to coach (once I get my degree finished and get in the school system) so that I can give other kids the awesome experience I have. My team was my second family and school was my second home that year and I can't tell you how much that influenced the person I am today.


--------------------
Music Major Extraordinaire :)

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tryingtothinkaga...
post Jan 25 2012, 05:07 AM
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I loved learning new things, and memorized an obnoxious number of random facts. I hated homework though, so I was a perfect varsity.

At least once a week something will come up in a class or a conversation that allows me to draw on what I learned through acadec, and it makes me sound like a smurfing genius. More than that, I still keep in contact with my former teammates, now three years after I graduated high school, and I count them among my closest friends. And now I've met a bunch of people through this website that I talk to almost every day.

tl;dr: learn good smurf, meet good people.

PS: Acadec girls. Ooooooh lord, acadec girls. Ask Beregond what he got out of acadec.

This post has been edited by tryingtothinkagain: Jan 25 2012, 05:09 AM


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Teddy Roosevelt's ghost 2012!

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

QUOTE (BearMan @ Feb 2 2012, 01:52 PM) *
oO You must have been a godly varsity.
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acadecker
post Jan 26 2012, 02:50 AM
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Well, I'm pretty insane when it comes to ACADEC and all; at this stage in the game, I honestly can't imagine life without it--it's been that integral to what I do and who I am. It's also kept me in teaching all these years; I don't think I would have survived the insanity of teaching where I teach without coaching decathlon. I get to read interesting stuff and share my limited understanding of it all with bright, intelligent, articulate kids--what could be better than that? I get to watch kids grow over time, many of them take my class for four years, and keep in touch for years later. One of my former students is now my student teacher, and I could not be prouder of her accomplishments. I've been forced to read and do research on so many different things--stuff I never would have taken the time to learn or understand without the impetus of decathlon. It helped me make a connection with my father, before he died, because every summer for 18 years he would read ALL of the USAD guides and give me mountains of additional research (from his own library) to supplement the curriculum. It kept us close for that entire time, and he went to every super quiz until the weekend of Regional Competition in 2008, on his 90th birthday, while we were winning, and as he was taking his last breath. It's been an awesome adventure, and life just wouldn't be the same without it.

I tell kids that years from now, they will barely remember the day to day trappings of high school, but they'll remember stuff they learned through Academic Decathlon.


--------------------
Year 23 (Russia) in the books; now starting year 24 (WWI) of ACADEC coaching. I hope you all like this as much as I do!
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kplay6809
post Feb 2 2012, 07:26 PM
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The personal reason:
I've played sports my whole life, and I had a desire to compete in something new. The friendly rivalries that have manifested from this healthy competition are treasured memories of my high school career. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of victory, especially as an underdog, and it has driven me to do my best.

The more logical reason:
My GPA (3.5) did not reflect my intelligence in my opinion (33 ACT), and I wanted to prove my worth to colleges.


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Kevin Plazak
New Berlin Eisenhower Scholastic, '12
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tryingtothinkaga...
post Feb 2 2012, 07:41 PM
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QUOTE (kplay6809 @ Feb 2 2012, 01:26 PM) *
The personal reason:
I've played sports my whole life, and I had a desire to compete in something new. The friendly rivalries that have manifested from this healthy competition are treasured memories of my high school career. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of victory, especially as an underdog, and it has driven me to do my best.

The more logical reason:
My GPA (3.5) did not reflect my intelligence in my opinion (33 ACT), and I wanted to prove my worth to colleges.

That too. I was 2.7 unweighted with a 36 ACT.


--------------------
Teddy Roosevelt's ghost 2012!

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

QUOTE (BearMan @ Feb 2 2012, 01:52 PM) *
oO You must have been a godly varsity.
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BearMan
post Feb 2 2012, 07:52 PM
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QUOTE (tryingtothinkagain @ Feb 2 2012, 12:41 PM) *
QUOTE (kplay6809 @ Feb 2 2012, 01:26 PM) *
The personal reason:
I've played sports my whole life, and I had a desire to compete in something new. The friendly rivalries that have manifested from this healthy competition are treasured memories of my high school career. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of victory, especially as an underdog, and it has driven me to do my best.

The more logical reason:
My GPA (3.5) did not reflect my intelligence in my opinion (33 ACT), and I wanted to prove my worth to colleges.

That too. I was 2.7 unweighted with a 36 ACT.



oO You must have been a godly varsity.


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Once a Polar Bear, Always a Polar Bear
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tryingtothinkaga...
post Feb 2 2012, 08:52 PM
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lol these new guys






<---

This post has been edited by tryingtothinkagain: Feb 2 2012, 08:52 PM


--------------------
Teddy Roosevelt's ghost 2012!

"Also, I can kill you with my brain."

QUOTE (BearMan @ Feb 2 2012, 01:52 PM) *
oO You must have been a godly varsity.
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BearMan
post Feb 2 2012, 09:46 PM
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QUOTE (tryingtothinkagain @ Feb 2 2012, 01:52 PM) *
lol these new guys






<---


I'm not a new guy! I just forgot my login info so I had to make a new account tongue.gif


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Widget!
post Feb 2 2012, 09:46 PM
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TL;DR: I did Decathlon for reasons.

I was a smurfup. Now, to be fair, I'm kind of still a smurfup. (Perhaps not "kind of"...) But the point is: in high school, I was a serious smurfup. I got all of one A freshman year, and that was only for one semester. Everything else was a C or below. I simply gave zero smurfs in high school. I didn't want to be there, I wasn't engaged, and in addition to your standard teen angst smurf, I also wasn't really in a good place mentally.

I spent more than half of freshman year being continually told by my best friend--then a junior--that I should sign up for Academic Decathlon the coming year. By about February, I was convinced. It just seemed fun. Everyone who was in the program had ridiculous amounts of fun--the camaraderie was fantastic and the jokes were the puerile kind I preferred while being about sufficiently intellectual subject matter to attract my budding pretension. Between February and May, when I was to sign up for classes for the coming year, I'd learnt that not only was it incredibly enjoyable, it was particularly lucrative, as in my state, we used to throw money at Decathlon. We still do, but to a lesser degree. And here is fifteen-year-old Widget, being told, "Yeah, so, uh, read a bunch of smurf, make mad money, have a lot of fun. Oh, and the topic is going to be China next year."

Why the hell would anyone not do this?

So, I sign up, get my packets, and read The Good Earth a couple times over the summer. Get to class the first day, and there's only nine people total. Cool. Tight-knit. I can work with that.

Go through the year, arrogant as only a very intelligent, disaffected fifteen-year-old can be, trading blows with aforementioned best friend for higher-scoring Varsity, and make it to State. Fall just shy of breaking the 7k mark. Get to do e-nats. Work my ass off. Score suffers due to lack of subjectives. Still pull off second Varsity at e-nats. Lose to smurfing University High in Fresno by 127 points, due to unmotivated Scholastics.

Thinking back, that's really where my Decathlon demeanor changed. Getting the scores back from '07 e-nats was when I realized how important the team aspect was. I had cared and struggled, but my teammates hadn't. It wasn't so much a failing on their part as a motivation for me to understand why the priorities were different. Even still, I had more to learn.

We learned what the topic was for my Junior year around that time: the U.S. Civil War.

Mother of god. This is where it's at.

It took me a long damn time to appreciate Crane, and I knew it would, so I had the foresight to better my other areas--Music, Science, and Art, most notably--that I had room for improvement in. In my Junior year, I developed much stronger study skills, and vastly improved my knowledge retention. As we moved through the year and came closer and closer to Regions, my eventual status as primary point-scorer for the team began to solidify, as I was constantly neck-and-neck with our top Honors. Talk of captainhood circulated between the coaches and certain members of the team, but scoring a bunch of points doesn't make you a captain. The captain of the team doesn't just kick more ass than everyone else--although that is a very effective motivational technique. There's so much more to it than that.

A week and a half before regionals, our top Honors stopped coming to school. We found out with a week to go that she'd been checked into a hospital, under psychological duress. We all knew she had a bit of a rough home life, but I think we all took for granted just how bad it could get. We knew she still wanted to go to regionals, and she'd passed on the message that if she couldn't make it, she wanted us to promise that we wouldn't give up without her. To make this all clear, she pretty much bled for Decathlon. It was without a doubt her passion, and to hear that from her was just...heartbreaking. In the seven days following that news, I lost count of how many times I read the resources, or how many hours of sleep I lost, or how many pages of notes I ended up writing, but if ever there was a cram of epic proportions, that was it. For those of you that remember how long SuperQuiz was that year, understand the gravity when I say I made it through that more than once that week. And it wasn't just me. Our second Honors, our top Scholastic, and our second Varsity all did the same. To say that we were in no way motivated by the fear of having lost one of our two top scorers would be a lie, but I know for a fact that by the time the other three fell into the week of cramming after me, the fear was a minor element. We didn't give a smurf about the trophy anymore. We couldn't have given two smurfs about medals. We had become a family, and one of our own was being cut off from something she loved. "Cramming" doesn't even feel like the right term for what we did that week. It was really more of "ragestudy".

I got a call from my coach around nine the day before Region. Our top honors had been released from the hospital, and she was going to be able to go to the tournament. I'm not lying when I say I've never cried out of pure elation like that either before or since. The feeling of knowing that the simply ludicrous amount of studying you'd done was not just a wise decision from a tactical standpoint, but would also pay off in making sure that she was going to have the strongest team around her that she could have possibly had is impossible to adequately relate.

And holy smurf did it pay off. When we were told our top Honors probably wouldn't be at region, we weren't sure we were going to beat Kingman. We were positive we were going to clock in somewhere in the mid 30ks. When they announced our score as being just over 40k, my jaw dropped. But the real shock came when we got back our breakdowns: four of us had broken 7k, and none of our scoring members had scored below 6.2k. Our top honors was a scant 40 points behind me--and she did her speech & interview while on drugs--making us the third and fourth overall top-scorers in the region.

When we got in the cars to go home after Regionals, we didn't talk much. There was mostly just the contented silence of people who had come together in a moment of crisis and had made it through to the other side alive.

Unfortunately, the motivation somewhat ran out after Region. We still did well at state, and still went on to e-nats--I personally still kicked ass in both competitions--but the crazed drive to destroy had pretty much evaporated. We ended the year simply okay, and University--between our puttering out and their ridiculously strong performance (DAVID GOD DAMN MATSUSHITA)--beat us at e-nats by a neat 2500 points on the dot. It was disappointing; I won't lie. But life goes on, another year was dawning, and the topic was intriguing, if rife with stumbling blocks for the religious of my team. Latin America and Evolutionary Biology, kids. And in Arizona, no less.

Break out the bigotry.

My senior year was a difficult one, in terms of workload and capacity. On graduation night of my Junior year, I got home at eleven o'clock, tired from sixteen hours of Pomp and Circumstance, parents being cunts, and my boss being actually crazy, only to have someone knock on the door about twenty minutes later to serve an eviction notice to my parents. We moved into the house that my grandparents lived in half the year, thirty miles away from St. Johns in Round Valley. This meant a 30+ minute commute every morning and night. But I still kept with Decathlon.

Despite losing our 2nd Varsity to an ill-timed move to California he didn't want to make, we managed to stay on top of our region. True, a good portion of that position was maintained due to my own personal efforts, but with a first-year Honors student breaking 7k, and an otherwise brand-new team--I'm serious; the only "experience" anyone had other than me was as a non-competing alternate--that managed to not suck entirely, I think there's something to be said for my teammates' efforts. Although it was a long year, it was also a year of maturity for me. I wrote my first completely serious speech, I motivated my teammates (I think), and I helped organize all our smurf. I managed to get five very conservative Christians to read, digest, and try to understand a packet about evolution. Beyond all that, the sense of camaraderie I felt with my teammates had developed further and expanded to include not just my teammates, but any competitor.

But as I said, we managed to make it through Regionals; our top honors scraped out a 7k, our second honors & top scholastic pulled out 6.6ks, and I rounded out the ass-kickery with the highest score in the region.

The time between Regionals and State was...weird. Have you ever had a girl throw herself at you for reasons you don't understand and therefore you fail to reciprocate properly, and end up at the end of it thinking, "Wait...what?" Yeah...there you go.

From about November until March, I thrived on grocery store corn dogs and Mountain Dew. I don't know how I managed a severe five-month nutritional deficit, but it worked. Until the day of state, when some bright smurfer neglected to drink any caffeine. (That dude was me.) The headache started around the time I finished my second-to-last paragraph on the essay, and luckily the LangLit test was so bad there was no way to maintain my 820 from region--as RM put it, "It was like answering impressionist questions about abstract art, where all the answers are synonyms."--so in hindsight I didn't have a whole lot to regret. I was administered caffeine and Tylenol between LangLit and Speech & Interview, so luckily I was cogent and clear for those--albeit a little grey.

As we sat in the audience waiting for the awards ceremony to start, a little bit of doubt started to form in my mind. I knew I hadn't studied as much as I really could have, and I was wondering how much that would cost me. Going into State, I was the highest scoring Varsity in the state, but I had to wonder if anyone would close the gap. The medals are doled out, and my tally marks indicated that I'd only received four medals, whereas the four people within five hundred points of my Region score had all received more.

This is the moment of terror.

I made eye-contact with my coach, and knew from her expression that she'd just made the same realization that I had. I don't know which one of us was most crushed in that moment. We both knew the best I could have hoped for was third place. But it got worse. They started announcing the ten-event medals. Varsity Bronze went to a bitchin' awesome dude from Red Mountain, and I accepted fate. Varsity Silver went to Varsity_Boy, from CDO. And I was utterly confused and without any clue as to what was going on when they announced that I'd won the Varsity gold.

No. Seriously. This isn't like, cliched, "We're going to pretend there was doubt, but in all reality, you should have known what was coming all along, you silly goose." With a bronze, two silvers and a gold, you don't beat a guy with four bronzes, a silver and two golds. That's smurfing ridiculous. To add to the confusion, the announcer seemed to think I was the aforementioned dude from Red Mountain--I mean, I guess we kinda look alike, but really now--and so met me at the stage by telling me, "No, wait, you got third. You got third."

It was hectic.

The rest of the year was mostly a blur. To say I took the time off would be a lie--my objective score increase from state to e-nats should justify that statement--but I really just...don't remember much of it. The year was done, as far as I was concerned.


To sum all of that rambling up, Decathlon, more than anything else, prepared me for, well, life. I've gotten three or four jobs as a less-promising candidate on paper due to the communications skills I developed in the program. I've made lasting friendships, and have a life experience that allows me to instantly bond with people I've just met--obviously in the rare event that I do randomly meet a former decathlete.

I started out in Decathlon because I was a bored, unengaged kid on track to fail the smurf out of high school because he was too bored to care about the homework, and came out of it with very valuable skills that have helped me get my life back on track in the past months. Suffice it to say: there's no good reason not to do this program. Honestly. If you don't see the value in it, you're intentionally ignoring it. Between study skills, crisis management, communications development, etiquette & grooming, and the huge barrage of PubQuiz/Trivial Pursuit fodder, there is something of value for any potential competitor to take away from Academic Decathlon.


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QUOTE (overly_critical_man @ Sep 19 2011, 11:04 AM) *
QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Sep 19 2011, 08:59 AM) *
Also, why are there serious posts in here when we could be talking about ass and bacon?


I often lie awake in bed at night, wondering this to myself.
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BearMan
post Feb 2 2012, 09:52 PM
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QUOTE (Widget! @ Feb 2 2012, 02:46 PM) *
No. Seriously. This isn't like, cliched, "We're going to pretend there was doubt, but in all reality, you should have known what was coming all along, you silly goose." With a bronze, two silvers and a gold, you don't beat a guy with four bronzes, a silver and two golds. That's smurfing ridiculous. To add to the confusion, the announcer seemed to think I was the aforementioned dude from Red Mountain--I mean, I guess we kinda look alike, but really now--and so met me at the stage by telling me, "No, wait, you got third. You got third."


I am now roommates with that "bitchin awesome dude from Red Mountain"
biggrin.gif


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The Evil Dr. Cal...
post Feb 2 2012, 10:56 PM
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Well said, Brendan. This is also why I coach.

*Academic Decathlon changes people's lives.*


--------------------
“Going to another country doesn’t make any difference. I’ve tried all that. You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There’s nothing to that.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
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overly_critical_...
post Feb 2 2012, 11:17 PM
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My brother and sister did decathlon and lorded over me with their bronze medal in science for over a decade.

Therefore I joined decathlon out of spite and to get the opportunity to say "I'M BETTER THAN YOU."



--------------------


I'm never that far, no matter where you are.
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Widget!
post Feb 2 2012, 11:34 PM
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QUOTE (BearMan @ Feb 2 2012, 02:52 PM) *
QUOTE (Widget! @ Feb 2 2012, 02:46 PM) *
No. Seriously. This isn't like, cliched, "We're going to pretend there was doubt, but in all reality, you should have known what was coming all along, you silly goose." With a bronze, two silvers and a gold, you don't beat a guy with four bronzes, a silver and two golds. That's smurfing ridiculous. To add to the confusion, the announcer seemed to think I was the aforementioned dude from Red Mountain--I mean, I guess we kinda look alike, but really now--and so met me at the stage by telling me, "No, wait, you got third. You got third."


I am now roommates with that "bitchin awesome dude from Red Mountain"
biggrin.gif


I think you'd agree: he and I don't really look that much alike.


--------------------
QUOTE (overly_critical_man @ Sep 19 2011, 11:04 AM) *
QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Sep 19 2011, 08:59 AM) *
Also, why are there serious posts in here when we could be talking about ass and bacon?


I often lie awake in bed at night, wondering this to myself.
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BearMan
post Feb 2 2012, 11:38 PM
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QUOTE (Widget! @ Feb 2 2012, 04:34 PM) *
QUOTE (BearMan @ Feb 2 2012, 02:52 PM) *
QUOTE (Widget! @ Feb 2 2012, 02:46 PM) *
No. Seriously. This isn't like, cliched, "We're going to pretend there was doubt, but in all reality, you should have known what was coming all along, you silly goose." With a bronze, two silvers and a gold, you don't beat a guy with four bronzes, a silver and two golds. That's smurfing ridiculous. To add to the confusion, the announcer seemed to think I was the aforementioned dude from Red Mountain--I mean, I guess we kinda look alike, but really now--and so met me at the stage by telling me, "No, wait, you got third. You got third."


I am now roommates with that "bitchin awesome dude from Red Mountain"
biggrin.gif


I think you'd agree: he and I don't really look that much alike.


Yeah not even close. Especially now since he shaved his head and has a 4 foot long beard. tongue.gif


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Widget!
post Feb 3 2012, 12:20 AM
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QUOTE (The Evil Dr. Calculus @ Feb 2 2012, 03:56 PM) *
Well said, Brendan. This is also why I coach.

*Academic Decathlon changes people's lives.*


Thank you! It really does.


--------------------
QUOTE (overly_critical_man @ Sep 19 2011, 11:04 AM) *
QUOTE (Research Monkey @ Sep 19 2011, 08:59 AM) *
Also, why are there serious posts in here when we could be talking about ass and bacon?


I often lie awake in bed at night, wondering this to myself.
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AK_WDB
post Feb 9 2012, 01:36 AM
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I have a long Aca-Deca story. As a mediocre freshman, I got the bug, vowing to study and compete seriously the next year. Eventually, junior year, my team went to Hawaii and took second place in our division. As a senior, I almost broke 9,000. Along the way I won a lot of medals and a few scholarships. I even returned to help out the team a year later by recruiting a new coach. You fill in the details.

If you'd asked me this question right after graduation, I'd probably have written a long essay like Brendan's. Academic Decathlon changed my life too, mainly by being the first thing that really allowed me to show a competitive spirit. As a child, I hated competitions because all of them were sports, at which I sucked. Doing well in Aca-Deca instilled a sense of pride I had lacked. Indeed, my social life in high school had come to be built around my image as the school's Aca-Deca star. I would have said that I could never imagine my life without Aca-Deca, that I would surely become a coach someday, and in the meantime stay involved with my school's team as much as possible.

Now, four years later, I have a different relationship with my Decathlon past. I still get very excited for the West Valley team; I was so proud when they won state last year for the first time since I graduated. But I'm no longer actively involved with the team, nor do I really have plans to coach. (A teaching career probably isn't in my future.) There are days when I hate the fact that, after four years of Ivy League education, my proudest accomplishment is still something I did in high school. And there are days when the joy and excitement comes rushing back as though I still had one more Scantron to fill out.

Academic Decathlon is something I did. I learned a lot of information that I can use in everyday life. I gained two amazing friends and mentors in my coaches. Most of my teammates did not become long-lasting friends. I hope Academic Decathlon continues to grow in Alaska; I'd like to volunteer at state, and at nationals when Anchorage hosts in 2016. I hope USAD sorts out some if its problems. I hope many other kids can experience the combination of learning and competition that I so enjoyed, and that future teams at West Valley are more functional than mine were.

It doesn't define my life the way it once did. But since I left Aca-Deca, there's never been anything into which I felt so inclined to pour all of my energy - and for that reason I miss it.
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coppellacdec04
post Jul 26 2012, 06:42 PM
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I signed up for Acdec as a class because I thought it would boost my GPA. I had a really crappy one coming out of freshman year and I ended up taking like 6 AP classes to bring my weighted GPA up. I didn't intend to spend any time at all for this class and wanted to just be on the support team. Furthermore, I wasn't too keen on competing with a team with very uh... diverse personalities. I really didn't think we would stand out at all. But, i guess, spending like a 1/3 of my school life with just my Acdec teammates forced us to become friends. I've always had a competitive spirit, but I was too busy aiming my all my time and effort towards school, and it thus lay dormant up until the Rockwall Invitational meet. I enjoyed every bit of it; the growing anticipation as we neared the end, the cheers for those who won medals, the recognition, and even some of the regret for those of us who felt like we could have done just a little better. The excitement just kept growing right until we got to State, where we made a pretty impressive showing for an all-newbie team. But I think it's the time spent outside of class that really impacted me. It was no longer the a class that forced interactions between us, it came out of our own accord. We enjoyed each other's company, even though we had almost complete different personalities and lives. In fact, I think that's what it was. We were all different, but we were also all the same.

Needless to say, I signed up again this year, along with 7 others who were on last year's team.

We are ready.
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AK_WDB
post Sep 4 2012, 06:05 AM
Post #19


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It occurred to me that this is what I should have said:

Academic Decathlon's competitive atmosphere gave me something for which I was willing to work, hours and hours a day, and love it, and always feel like I was doing something worthwhile. I've never had the motivation to work so hard for anything since. That is what I miss about it.
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cinnabuntelephon...
post Sep 10 2012, 02:05 AM
Post #20


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I'm a masochist
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