Online Decathlon

Northwest’s academic decathlon team went to state

Morgan Tate

Senior Ryan Beck rolled out of his bed and got on a Webex call at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning for academic decathlon. It wasn’t as early of a wake-up call but it still wasn’t fun. Things didn’t go as expected from there either. According to the rosters, he wasn’t enrolled.  Instead, there were two Christopher Ramseys, a fellow academic decathlon teammate, and no Ryan Becks. Plus the test was blocked on the school computers. But after a turbulent start, he finally started the test on his phone. 

The academic decathlon is an annual event, comprised of 7 tests, two speeches, an interview and an essay. Most years, the students who participate would get up and go to a school before taking these tests but this year due to COVID-19 these tests were taken online. But there was one more big change. 

“We would also be doing prepared speech where we know what we’re doing for it ahead of time,” Beck said, “And we know what we’re going to say for it… And then after that, you do an impromptu speech which is based on one of three topics that you can choose from… we didn’t have the speeches sadly.” 

The lack of speeches and general socializing is what really made the academic decathlon worse this year for the students. One of the biggest losses for the students was the quizbowl at the very end. It was a quiz like game show consisting of 13 questions for each grade range.

You get to be in a team of people and talk over answers and so losing a lot of the social aspects of the academic decathlon is a big loss.

— Christopher Ramsey

“It kind of sucks losing that. It’s a lot of fun and it’s the one group competition that you get to do,” Ramsey said, “You get to be in a team of people and talk over answers and so losing a lot of the social aspects of the academic decathlon is a big loss.”

But academic decathlon cannot happen without students. Even in a normal year, getting students to compete is a difficult task for both students and the sponsor Vonda Morris. But with the limitations of COVID, it has made recruiting exponentially harder. 

“ is challenging,” Morris said,  “Because we saw fewer people each day and had little luck getting any students to respond to announcements encouraging those who were interested to get involved.”

But despite the challenges, Morris has recruited many students over the years. Including the President of Northwest’s academic decathlon Jesse DeBok. Who, even with all the changes, would still recommend participating in academic decathlon. 

“I would definitely recommend people to go to the Academic Decathlon,” DeBok said, “Not only do I like it, but it looks great on your resume. It gives you an opportunity to practice test-taking and to show what things you know, and the subject material is very interesting.”