The St. Martinville Sr. High School Academic Decathlon team was named the Division 3 (small schools) “Rookie Team of the Year” at the Academic Decathlon® National Competition held in Albuquerque, N.M., April 25-29.
The team, which represented Louisiana as the state champion, competed against 11 other state teams in Division 3, finishing in sixth place.
The national event featured top teams from 32 states along with a team from London, England.
The United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) is a ten-event scholastic competition with each school fielding a team of nine students – three “A” or honor students, three “B” or scholastic students, and three “C” or varsity students.
The competition features an interdisciplinary curriculum in which a selected theme is integrated across six different subject areas – art, economics, language and literature, music, science and social science. Students also study math and participate in essay writing, speech and interview events.
Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for individual events and total scores, with teams advancing through the local, regional and state levels of competition. State champion teams are eligible to compete in the national finals.
A different theme is selected each year and students are required to read a novel associated with the theme. This year’s theme was “The Age of Empire” and the novel was “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad (1857-1924).
Previous themes/novels have included Understanding Self/Frankenstein, Understanding the Natural World/Far From the Madding Crowd, China/The Good Earth, The Civil War/The Red Badge of Courage, The French Revolution/A Tale of Two Cities, and the Great Depression/The Grapes of Wrath.
The next topic/novel is Russia/Dr. Zhivago.
The SMSH Academic Decathlon class is open to students who love the challenge of academic competition and are willing to put in the extraordinary amount of time to prepare.
After students read the assigned novel over the summer, study begins with the language and literature resource guides. Scrimmage tests are taken on the information before the decathletes take the Big Test on language and literature. The scores go on a wall chart and then every other subject – art music, economics, science social science – is studied and test scores posted.
A cumulative test score is posted so decathletes know who is on the team from week to week. Following the final test, the team is selected based on the top three scores in the three categories – honors, scholastic and varsity. These final members proceed to state competition.
The SMSH Academic Decathlon team that won top state honors and took part in the national competition included Jenny Vongprathoum (captain and highest scorer), Vanel Porter, Elizabeth Theriot, Jessi LaSalle, Patrick LeBlanc, Austin Rangel, Marcel Dixon and Tristen Ferguson. The team is coached by faculty member Sherrie Jacobs.