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AcaDec battles Civil War superquiz

Joseph E. Brown and Zebulon Vance were examples of the ?internal conflict? thesis proposed in 1925 by which historian? The answer: Frank Owsley.

It may seem unusual for high school student to know let alone study hundreds of similar questions regarding the Civil War, on top of their core classes. However, the 10-member Academic Decathlon spends third period expanding their knowledge and studying for a chance at a $500 scholarship.

?Most people who do not know much about AcaDec do not think that it would be fun,? Sargent said. ?It is definitely a lot of work, but in the end it pays off. I really think that it would be fun if more would join.?

Academic Decathlon (AcaDec) is a scholastic competition between students from various schools. Each competition team contains three levels of three students, which is determined by their GPA from the past three years. The Honors team is the highest, students need to maintain a 3.75 or higher, scholastic team ranges from 3.0-3.74 and the varsity is 3.0 or less.

“I didn’t know AcaDec existed until last year,” Mike Bowen, ’08, said. “The material isn’t hard to read, but the tests are killer. I’d rate the difficulty 15 out of 10, on tests you’ve done well if you score 50%.”

This campus competes against schools in the San Joaquin Valley in 10 categories based on this year?s Civil War theme: art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, mathematics, music, science (infectious diseases), social science and speech (prepared and impromptu).

Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for individual and team scores. The winning teams advance through local, regional, state and national levels of competitions. Junior Molly Griffin, yearbook editor, is the only non-senior on the team and one of the three returning members.

“The material is definitely more interesting than last year,” Griffin said. “We basically have all seniors and although it’d be better if we had more than three returning members, I think we’ll do well.”

Students receive four units of college credit for attending three, three hour, lectures at California State University Fresno. The first featured a presentation on music during the Civil War and antebellum period. The second half included infectious diseases impact on the world, on Oct. 16.

The second was called art and the abolitionist movement, followed by the language and literature portion titled Crane (Stephen), Whitman (Walter) and the Civil War, on Nov. 13. The team awaits the last segment on superquiz (Civil War) and economics, Dec. 4.

“Some of the lectures are interesting like the science and music,” Walter Scott, defensive lineman for varsity football, said. “The professors make it interesting, I actually sat down and take notes. The literature professor was off topic from the AcaDec material; I slept through it. But they’re important to give us a different outlook on new and more information, not just what was given to us in the material (about 1,000 college level pages). I joined because I love the Civil War and am glad I did.”

Other than lectures, trip to Bakersfield to listen to music and an art and literature lecture in Stockton, the only activity students attend is practice day. For six hours, teams tested their knowledge in the seven written subjects and received a glimpse of competition day, on Nov. 17. The team placed 15th overall and third in Division II, without Taylor Torrence, Opinions editor, and Griffin’s scores.

“Some schools are extremely serious and memorize all of the material,” Ellie Wilhelm, yearbook editor and forward for varsity soccer, said, “I don’t think they sleep. I enjoy AcaDec on this campus, because of the balance we have; we take it seriously, but participate in other things outside of it and we still do well.”

The first day of competition will test speech, essay and interview on Jan. 26. The second day will quiz on the remaining subjects and feature a portion of a superquiz team test at Fresno State for friends and family to watch, on Feb. 2. The award ceremony will follow the oral portion of superquiz after a two hour break.

“I originally joined AcaDec, because of the four units of college humanities credits,” Wilhelm said. “I’d advise anyone who likes to read to join. It’s fun because of the random group of people, but we all get along. We also get to bond a lot because of the long road trips. It’s the people who make it exciting.”

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    Maddie YeeJan 16, 2010 at 6:48 am

    It was so much fun to be able to have a Grandparent’s Day at school. It was cool to see all of the grandparents with their grandchildren. Just eating together and talking helped me make another good memory with my grandma.