Congratulations to these amazing kids!

Following up on the story we also passed along a few weeks back, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids recently brought home the top prize in the National Academic Decathlon competition.

Cedar Rapids Jefferson teacher and coach Kevin Darrow says his students spend 600-800 hours a year studying for the contest and then went full boar for four days before the recent competition doing "nonstop study". It paid off with the team's first win at nationals in the National Academic Decathlon.

New faces, the same tradition of effort and dedication

This year's students continue a longstanding Jefferson tradition, making this the 22nd consecutive year the school's team has won this honor at the state level. It's their first national win, and as such, they are making a huge deal out of it. They held a breakfast gathering with family in the school's cafeteria as they awaited the results on April 23. One student described the scene at that gathering:

I think I was getting more stressed out watching Mr. Darrow pace around the room. When we saw our names pop up, we freaked out. It was such a crazy feeling

What came after the news was "pure emotion", according to Darrow.

Their studying and practice for the academic decathlon were on top of other regular classes and activities.

Several individual honors were awarded as well

Per the Jefferson High School website

  • Adam Swartzendruber and Danika Burkett placed second in their respective divisions which earned them $750 scholarships.
    Dawson Posekany and Brianna Olson finished third in their divisions earning $500 scholarships. The team won 26 of the 90 individual awards (a new best).
  • Adam Swartzendruber was the highest-scoring team member scoring 8,165.9 points out of 10,000 possible, earning him a $250 scholarship.
  • Olivia Proctor was voted “most valuable team member” and won a $250 scholarship.
  • Daniel Binhammer was the “most improved Varsity member from state to the national competition in his division, earning him a $250 scholarship.

Dedication and hours of study

The concept of the academic decathlon began in California in 1968 and came to Iowa in 1986. Students are tested on a variety of subjects, including art, economics, essay, interviewing, language and literature, mathematics, social science, science, speech, and super quiz. Darrow said:

Putting a national title under our belt helps solidify that we’re one of the top programs in the nation.  There’s obviously a lot of pride

Pride that he hopes to see his students and those that follow them continue for many years. This year's championship team consists of Kaitlyn deBlois, Dawson Posekany, Adam Swartzendruber, Zach Smith, Olivia Proctor, Danika Burkett, Briana Olson, Daniel Binhammer, Nickolas Graham and Wrigley Brody.

Congratulations to all!

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