Shawnee Mission Northwest High School took first place at this year’s state Academic Decathlon competition.
Academic Decathlon is a team competition that tests students in seven separate categories: art, music, economics, math, literature, science, and social science. In addition, students give speeches, write an essay, and participate in an interview. Each year an overall theme is selected for the competition, this year’s theme was the Cold War.
The team studied intensely throughout the year. Study sessions were student-led and organized, providing students with the opportunity to build leadership skills. The team was also supported by their coach and teacher, Vonda Morris.
This year brought unique challenges to the competition, including a virtual-only format due to the ongoing pandemic. Team members participated in online practice sessions to troubleshoot and ensure they were able to access the official exams. Another obstacle was a testing schedule that partially overlapped spring break.
Even though there were challenges to overcome, Morris shared how impressed she is with the team saying, “They have a willingness to take on something more, partly because they are inquisitive and love learning, also because they’re competitive and know these kinds of experiences will be helpful in their college search. At a time when many of us would rather do less, they’re choosing to do more. I have a lot of respect for that.”
The Shawnee Mission Northwest Academic Decathlon Team includes:
Jesse DeBok – Captain