SCC going to the Aloha state

LAKE CITY – South Central Calhoun High School’s academic decathlon team will compete in Hawaii in April.

The team advanced from the state competition held in Johnston on March 7 and 8.

“We qualified for the national competition, which is being held in Honolulu,” John Olson, SCC academic decathlon team coach, said. “We’re one of 50 teams from 34 states across the nation that qualified for this.”

It takes a great deal of preparation to get ready for an academic decathlon, Olson said.

“Academic Decathlon is probably the most demanding academic competition we have in the United States,” he said. “It takes a lot of work. We start at the beginning of the school year. And our competition was just a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been working since August to get ready for this, to prepare ourselves for this.”

There are 10 events in the competition, including objective tests in art, music, literature, science, math, economics and social sciences.

“There are also three subjective events,” Olson said. “One is an essay. There’s a personal interview. It’s like a job interview, except it’s about their activities and their plans for the future. And then there is speech, and the speech has two parts. There’s a prepared speech, that has to fit a particular time requirement, three and a half to four minutes. And there is also an impromptu speech, so they have to learn how to think on their feet and deliver a speech with only one minute of preparation.”

Advancing to the national competition has been exciting, Olson said.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had to do this. We’ve never gone and competed at the national level in person,” he said. “We have actually competed at the national online several times and have done quite well in our division. We’re looking forward to going to Honolulu and getting together with those kids from all over the country and seeing what we can do.”

The students, Olson said, are especially excited about competing in Hawaii.

“They’re thrilled to go,” he said. “They realize it’s an honor. They realize they’re going to represent their school and their state in this competition so they’re pumped to do their best. They know they’re not going to be spending all of their time sitting on a beach. That’s not what they’re going there for. They’re going to compete at the national level.”

Following the competition, the students will get to sit on a beach.

“We do get one day after the competition is done, so we will certainly relax,” Olson said.

The academic decathlon team leaves April 23 to compete April 24 through 26.

They’re working now on raising funds for the trip.

“It’s not cheap,” Olson said. “We’re looking at $2,000 a person to get us there. We don’t get funded by the state of Iowa, so we have to raise every penny.”

The community can help the team make the trip, Olson said.

“If they’re interested, we have started a fundraising campaign,” he said. “Donations can be sent to the SCC Foundation/AD fund. Those donations can be dropped off at the United Bank in Lohrville, Rockwell City or Lake City. And we’ll be continuing that until we go, or until we raise the money that we need.”

The SCC Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, Olson said, which means donations are tax deductible.