It has been a long time coming for teacher K. R. Scott and his Mountain Pointe High School students.
Since creating the school's academic decathlon team, the Pride Decathletes, 18 years ago, Scott and his students have garnered second and third places before in regional tournaments, but this year was a first for the team as it took home a regional championship.
The recent victory over 21 other East Valley high schools secured the Pride Decathletes the top spot going into the state championship in the beginning of March. They won by 1,000 points over the second place team in the regional tournament, hosted by Brimhall Junior High School in Mesa Feb. 3-4.
"The kids were sort of stunned after we won," said Scott, who teaches social studies and the gifted program at Mountain Pointe. "But now we are looking forward to state. It's odd to see our name at the top (of the rankings)... we know we are competing in the league with the best teams."
Each of the Pride Decathletes' eight team members compete in eight events, including subject tests on areas such as math, literature and science, as well as the Super Quiz Relay, the only event where they compete collectively as a team.
Each team earns a combined score out of 60,000 possible points. There can be up to nine people per team, and they are broken up into three categories: honors, for the "A" students, Scholastic, for the "B" students, and Varsity, for the "C" students. The top two scores in each category is taken and added together to get the overall team score. The Pride Decathletes scored 43,845.7 out of 60,000 to win.
Also part of the competition was an interview, a prepared and impromptu speech made before judges, as well as an essay portion.
"It was a big surprise, but we put a lot of effort into preparing," co-captain Swaroon Sridhar said. "The coach and team put an emphasis on this being the year for us to win state. We are one step closer."
He said the majority of this team has been together for the past three years. Last year they came in fifth at state, but the bar has been set even higher after their regional victory.
"My freshman year, this was a completely new team," junior Sridhar said. "But we have built up this camaraderie as a team and the experience has become enlightening."
The state finals take place at Red Mountain High School, 7301 E. Brown Road in Mesa, March 9-10. To find out more about the competition, visit www.azacadec.org.
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