Challenge Of Victory In Decathlon

West G’s Academic Decathlon team Places first in its State Division for the 4th Year in a Row

Photo Courtesy Mr. Bishop

Photo Courtesy Mr. Bishop

West Geauga’s Academic Decathlon team, led by history teacher, Mr. Ben Speros, won first place at this year’s state championship. The overall topic for the competition was The Cold War. What’s Academic Decathlon ? Glad you asked. Academic Decathlon is an annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon (USAD). The competition consists of seven objective multiple choice tests, two subjective performance events, and an essay. Academic Decathlon was created in 1968 for local schools in Orange County, California and was expanded nationally in 1981.  

When asked about how he felt about winning, Mr. Speros said that it felt great to win because of the bizarre state of the year, but he wasn’t entirely surprised. Everyone was studying for this competition (which he says rarely happens) and most of the team that was with him last year is still competing. Nevertheless, it still felt amazing because, “…[their] first meeting together as a whole team was on the day of competition.” 

The team, made up of ten total members, won 48 medals overall. 43 medals came from the subject areas of math, science, social studies, literature, art, music, economics, speech, interview, and an essay. The other five medals came from five teammates winning “overall” in their categories. You might be thinking that this is just a “brain bowl” for the super smart kids…but you’d be wrong. In fact, as Mr. Speros explained, “Every Academic Decathlon team is made up of 9 active members.  Only 3 of those team members are allowed to have a 4.0 GPA.  3 members must have a B-average (or lower) GPA and 3 members must have a C-average (or lower) GPA.  Finding B and C students who are committed to reading and studying as a part of the program is extremely important.  Without them, we only have one-third of a team and can’t really compete.  Academic Decathlon does this to make sure teams are well-rounded and that all different levels of students are able to participate.”  

In the past, academic decathlon was presented as an elective class here at the high school, but it did not happen this year because of the pandemic. 

Mr. Speros loves leading the academic team because he loves seeing students grow when they didn’t think they could. He also loves working with students who are willing to work hard in their spare time and likes learning about some interesting and often bizarre topics. He says that it has been, “…an incredible experience.”