John Paul II High School will play host to the regional portion of the Texas Academic Decathlon on January 24-25, the first year that the tournament as been held at the school. The school’s involvement in the competition goes back to 2006, the year JPIIHS opened. The Cardinals fielded a team that finished fourth in the region and 17th in the state that year. Since then, JPIIHS has been steadily climbing the ranks, culminating in five straight regional titles and four straight state titles.
“As the success of the program becomes more known, more students have expressed interest in becoming part of it,” said Keith Gannett, one of the faculty coaches. While only nine members can compete on the regional team, JPIIHS has 29 students who participate in the program, a number that increases every year.
JPIIHS is the only private school that competes in the Texas Academic Decathlon. There are 10 events that the students compete in with six of those events involving tests that revolve around the central theme for the year. This year’s theme was World War I, and the subjects that involve the theme are Art, Music, Language & Literature, Economics, Science, and Social Science. The Decathletes also write an essay that ties into the theme, take a math test, engage in an interview with three judges, and deliver both a speech from memory and an impromptu speech in front of three judges. The public portion of the competition is the Super Quiz, which is held in the gym. Each student answers six questions from the six subjects. The questions are read aloud and the student has seven seconds to answer. Students who score the highest in each event win medals and if the overall team scores high enough they will advance to the state competition where, not only can they win medals, but can also earn scholarship money.
“Hosting a regional competition is an enormous undertaking,” said Mr. Gannett. “It is a two-day event. It will take every single JPIIHS staff member and large numbers of student volunteers to ensure that the competition runs smoothly.
“Being able to show how amazing the staff and students of JPIIHS are to the students, staff, and parents from those competing schools and providing them with a great competition experience is definitely the most exciting aspect of hosting the regional competition and we look forward to doing it again next year. “