WACADECA scores high at regionals


Delaney DeTitta

The Westwood Jr./Sr. High School Academic Decathlon Team participated in the 2015 regional competition on January 31. The competition was held at Ramapo High School. The theme this year was “New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.” Their successes included a third place regional trophy, a first place SuperQuiz cup, 34 individual trophies and a qualification for the state competition all given out at an awards ceremony on February 4.

At Westwood, the Academic Decathlon team (WACADECA) has 27 members in total and 18 of those members go to the competition. Out of the 18, nine students are starters and the other nine are alternates. This academic competition consists of ten events: music, art, language literature, science, social science, economics, math, interview essay and a speech. Most questions are multiple choice and the speech section requires each starter to prepare and memorize a three and a half minute speech and deliver it in front of three judges.

An additional section of the academic decathlon is the SuperQuiz. Many would consider this to be the most exciting part of the competition. “The seniors now that have been part of WACADECA throughout high school came in second every year until this year and were really excited to come in first since this has been a goal for the team for years,” says James Thomas, coach of WACADECA.

“I was euphoric when we won the super quiz for the first time,” says senior starter John Leyden. “It was so suspenseful because we had a sudden death tiebreaker against rutherford high school. My teammates kept us alive and won it for us and I jumped out of my seat in celebration.” Leyden also won MVP and highest scorer for this competition.

Westwood’s preparations for the Academic Decathlon include meeting every D-day at lunch. Materials and packets are sent to the team every year to help specify each topic and make studying easier. The starters prepare for all events, whereas the alternates focus on one specific subject each. The alternates are often put in so they can gain more experience and hopefully become a starter in the near future. Leyden says, “It’s fun to go to meetings with my friends and teammates. It’s cool how the competition aspect makes everyone learn more, which isn’t always the case in school.”

Standouts in this competition included Seniors Erin Mandeville, Katie Kalish and Allison Rogers who won four individual awards. Sophomore, Hana Tucker, won four awards even though this is her first year of WACADECA. Westwood’s Academic Decathlon team has a large amount of seniors who participate. The starters include: John Leyden, Erin Mandeville, Allison Rogers, Katie Kalish and Patrick Ferner. The other seniors, who are alternates include: Hagen Brown, Michael Napolitano, Parth Patel, Miguel Gonzalez and Karl Seitz.

According to Leyden, Thomas puts in a lot of his time and effort with the team to ensure the preparation for the competition. “This is the least we could do to reward him for that,” Leyden says when talking about winning the SuperQuiz. “I’m sure he’ll feel accomplished when he finally gets to eat an ice cream sundae out of the bowl shaped SuperQuiz trophy.”431