By Tracey Hamilton
For the fifth year, members of the North Tama Academic Decathlon Team are busy preparing for another year of competition. The team consists of 9 high school students. There is one alternate member with a total of ten members. Seniors- Lilli Howard, Brendon Boerm, Nathan Jones, Ava Conness and senior, foreign exchange student- Asma Nsiri. Juniors- Alaina Jantzen, Winston Miller, Nick Whannel and Stephanie Schroder and sophomore Nicolas Alavarez-Zimple. Students for the team are mostly decided by G.P.A. (grade point average) but are also picked through teacher recommendation, standardize test scores and varying.
The Academic Decathlon team pictured (l to r) front row: Lilli Howard, Winston Miller, Steph Schroder and Asma Nsiri. Back row: Coach Kevin Darrow, Nathan Jones, Brendon Boerm, Alaina Jantzen and Nick Whannel. Not pictured: Nicolas Alavarez-Zimple and Ava Conness.
Photo by Amy Jantzen
Three categories are required to make up the team with three students in each category. Category A is a student with a G.P.A. of 3.75 or higher, category B is a student with a G.P.A. of 3.0-3.75 and category C is a student with below a G.P.A. of 3.0.
The team is very dedicated to their goals and for several months have been meeting two or three times a week after school for several hours each time. The Academic Decathlon is comprised of ten events on a common theme. The theme this year is The Great Depression. On days that there is no school, the team will still meet to help them prepare for the upcoming regional competition that will be held in Cedar Rapids on January 29. If the team does well, they will then qualify for the state competition to be held in Mount Vernon on March 4 and 5.
The ten areas of study are Art, Economics, Essay, Language and Literature (The Grapes of Wrath), Mathmatics, Music, Social Science (History) and Super Quiz (Geology). The first year for the Academic Decathlon was in 2007 where the team finished 4th at the state competition. The 2008, 2009 and 2010 teams earned Small School State Championships. This year's team is striving to make it the forth straight year for a state title, but understands that success is not inherited from previous teams, it is earned only through hard work.
The state is divided into two divisions, Large and Small School Divisions. North Tama is in the Small School division. For the last three years, North Tama has finished third overall, behind Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Iowa City West. The teams goal for this year is to place higher in the overall standings in state competition. This is an enjoyable process of preparation for all the competitors.
For the last five years, leading these teams to success is their AD instructor, Kevin Darrow who is also teacher at North Tama high school. Darrow is very dedicated to the students and the program. "We have put in a lot of hard work to prepare for this year's competition. I am very proud of the effort that they have put forth to this point, but we know that this is only the beginning. Our goals are high and require a team effort to succeed."