Hendricken decathletes continue winning ways at national competition

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Bishop Hendricken High School’s Academic Decathlon Team won its eighth consecutive RI state championship earning them a trip to Frisco, Texas to represent the state in the United States Academic Decathlon (USAD) national competition in April. The team, coached by Sister Carol Anne Murray, tied for 2nd in Division II (schools with fewer than 1,500 students) and their performance marks the third consecutive time the team has broken into the top 3 nationally. 

The team placed 2nd place in 2016 and won the national title in 2017. Hendricken is also the only team from Rhode Island to break into the top three since the USAD began the national competition in 1982. Bishop Hendricken received a score of 45,902.6, the eighth highest in all divisions, and an even greater score than 2017 when the team won the national competition with a score of 43,612. Oakwood High School of Ohio placed first this year with a score of 52,608.3 and Hendricken tied for second place with Shanghai High School from China of the International Division.

The team had been meeting to practice twice a week for two hours a day since the summer. Sister Carol Anne also expects them to study on their own for 45 minutes a day. The students compare it to taking another AP class. After 26 years as Hendricken’s Academic Decathlon coach, Sister Carol Ann is the longest reigning Academic Decathlon team coach in Rhode Island.

The Hendricken nine-man team of Mitchell Boyer, Timothy Dziekan, Harris Gazder, Yongyuan (Steve) Huang, Jaidan Idarraga, Stephen Marandola, Ryan Murphy, A. Alden Platt, and Dylan Temel competed in five different events: The Super Quiz, Speech, Interview, Essay, and Tests of Knowledge. This year’s theme was Africa and Hendricken received 20 individual medals on top of their 2nd place team finish: 4 gold, 7 silver, and 9 bronze medals. Two students also placed individually with Steve Huang, 3rd overall in the DII Honor Division, and Jaidan Idarraga, 2nd overall in the DII Varsity Division. This is the third time Hendricken has had individual students place nationally. Huang also earned highest overall team score.

In the Super Quiz teammates take turns solving tough multiple choice challenges in front of a live audience before time runs out. Hendricken tied for 3rd in Division II in this portion of the event.

During the prepared speech, decathletes speak for up to four minutes on a topic of their choice and then speak off the cuff for up to two minutes on a topic they are given.

The interview portion gives decathletes seven minutes to speak about a subject they do not need to research: themselves. They answer questions about their background, interests, and goals. 

The essay section allows decathletes

fifty minutes to write the strongest paper possible by outlining and writing compelling arguments related to six of the seven Academic Decathlon subjects, excluding math.  

Finally, decathletes compete in Tests of Knowledge. To round out the events above, decathletes take seven multiple choice exams, one in each of the Academic Decathlon subjects: Art, Music, Social Science, Science, Economics, Language and Literature, and Mathematics. This area gives competitors the chance to win medals in every subject; a chance, even in a team sport, to demonstrate individual excellence.

Bishop Hendricken President John A. Jackson ’71 summarized the Academic Decathlon team’s long history of accomplishment at the state and national level stating, “We could not be more proud of the team’s performance, and are not at all surprised by their winning history over the past eight years. Sister Carol Anne has nurtured a team of incredibly dedicated scholars. They’re hard work has certainly paid off and become an extreme source of pride for the entire Hendricken community.”

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