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Acadec learns how to learn

Silence fills the auditorium as team members nervously check their answers and panic as they try to fill in the correct bubble on the Scantron. They wait anxiously for the judges to finalize their scores and reveal their results to the crowd. These moments are what the campus Academic Decathlon team thrives on and trains for all year.

Academic Decathlon coach Molly Sargent chooses students for the team based on their G.P.A. in academic classes. Then, they are split into groups depending on their grades, which can range from an “A” to a “C.” This makes Academic Decathlon unique, because its teammates come from all grade levels, yet each is transformed into a well-rounded contender who can compete with the best.

However, this transformation is not automatic; it requires hard work and dedication from the students.

“It takes quite some time to prepare for Academic Decathlon,” Maury Turner, ’04, said. “I had to read a novel over the summer and hundreds of pages of curriculum during the first semester to be able to prepare for the competition.”

Academic Decathlon is just one example of a class which requires students to invest maximum effort to achieve success. Students must apply themselves in all classes in order to retain information, according to Jon Endicott, vice principal.

“In order for students to learn material, they need to take ownership of their studies,” Endicott said. “They can’t just sit down, open their brains and have it poured in by teachers. Students need to be actively working in order to learn.”

Teachers also need to be aware that students learn in different ways. Some students learn visually or through listening or kinesthetically [physically doing something].

“Learning for me is easier when I am able to see what I’m trying to learn,” Suyen Milian, ’05, said. “But it is difficult when you sit with your friends because then you don’t listen at all.”

Learning techniques also vary according to class genre. For instance, Academic Decathlon, which is classified as a humanities course, requires different study strategies than a science class would.

“There is a major difference in learning techniques between humanities and science,” Rod Atchley, science teacher, said. “Since most students have little to no science background, we have to start back at the basics. Also, in the sciences, we focus a lot more on memorization, analysis, and logic, whereas in humanities classes, the thought process tends to be more creative rather than factual.”

Students who are interested in joining the campus Academic Decathlon team next school year, please see Sargent in Room 621 or call 297-1380. For online information on Acadec’s history, go to or the California site at

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