Tuesday | January 16, 2018
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Academic decathletes: Big Island students excel during national competition

Students from the Big Island representing the state held their own during last month’s U.S. Academic Decathlon National Competition in Madison, Wis.

Teams from 35 states and four countries competed for medals and scholarships in 10 academic areas including: art, science, social science, economics, literature, mathematics, music and the subjective events of essay, speech and interview.

Kamehameha School Hawaii in Keaau earned the opportunity to compete in Wisconsin by winning the state championship in February at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. In addition, two students from Honokaa High School earned the right to compete individually.

The Kamehameha team previously placed in the top three at nationals several times. This year, the team placed second in the SuperQuiz event, a compilation of all subject areas of this year’s theme, World War II. The team normally is made up of nine members divided into three categories by grade point average, but this year the team had six members.

Jacob Perry, a junior, earned six medals including a silver for the second-highest scoring student overall in his division. Kawika O’Connor, also a junior, earned four medals and the team MVP award as voted by his teammates Kepola Ishikawa, Jordyn Moniz, Lauren Krueger, Culen Santiago and Perry. The team was coached by Dane Nelson.

For the first time, Honokaa High sent two students to the national competition, seniors Romilly Benedict and Skyla Lee. According to their coaches, Geri Kelly and Vince Keelan, the two worked extraordinarily hard to master this year’s curriculum. Their hard work paid off when Benedict earned a silver medal in essay and Lee earned a silver medal in speech.

Academic Decathlon is the premier academic competition for high school students nationwide. In the past few years, the program has expanded internationally and thousands of students vie to attend the USAD National Competition each year.

All Hawaii high schools, public and private, are eligible to participate in the USAD program.

“No other extracurricular activity combines students from all ability levels to form a team that learns so many life skills including leadership, commitment, team building and strategy in addition to the actual curriculum topic,” said Hawaii academic decathlon state director Cindy Martisko.

Martisko said schools need the support of the administration and an interested and committed coach to lead the program. The theme for the 2017-18 competition year is “Africa.”

For more information or to form a team, visit www.usad.org or contact Martisko at cmartisko@integra.net.


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