Academic Team Faces Nation

Kelly Pien, Opinion Editor

AcaDeca competed in the online national championship on April 25. The team will be notified of the results on May 2.

Coach Paul Verbanszky is optimistic. “They felt strong about the answers and the results, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said. “New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the two states we have to watch out for.”

This is the team’s 2nd time advancing to the national competition. “To have a second chance to become the national champion, there’s a lot of pressure. But the students this year were super. They were amazing. They were so strong,” Verbanszky said. “They just really grabbed the bull by the horns – and I mean that pun on purpose because that was a book we had to read – and so they just really outdid themselves.”

The team was not able to go to the physical national competition in Hawaii, and instead took the test online. Last year, the team took the test at a computer lab at Campolindo, but due to concurrent Common Core testing this year on campus, they took the test at Del Valle, the adult education center in Walnut Creek.

Because of the online format, only 7 of the usual 10 events were contested. The speech, interview, and essay portions were omitted.

On the day of the competition, the 9 students on the team studied together and had breakfast at Nations, according to Verbanszky. The team then reported to Del Valle and signed in at exactly 10:45am. All students from all states logged in at the same time to take the test. They took the test from 10:45am to 3:05pm. According to Verbanszky, it was “nonstop testing” with 5 minute breaks in between each test and 30 minutes for lunch.

The team practiced at meetings 3-days-a-week prior to the competition. According to  captain Tristan Caro, the team does a lot of collaborative learning, worksheets that they make each other, presentations, Jeopardy, and silent reading, in addition to self-study.

“Unlike what we did for the state competition, this time, we did a lot more independent, individual focus on what students needed to work on (their weakest subjects),” Verbanszky said.

Although most of the team is made up of seniors, Caro said they were not affected by senioritis. “Well, we were, in our actual academic subjects in school, but as a club we were able to stay motivated most of the time,” he said.