Montoursville students compete in state academic competition

Sure, competing in the Pennsylvania Academic Decathlon is an incredible learning experience.

But for a group of Montoursville Area High School students it also proved to be fun and a chance to meet new people.

Nine students picked up medals in the competition, which culminated with Montoursville’s eighth straight appearance in state competition.

Students tackled different subjects, wrote essays, gave speeches and underwent interviews.

“Every year, it’s different,” said Mitch Hart, a social science teacher and coach of the Academic Decathlon team.

Students spend the first part of the school year preparing for the competition, which included a lot of individual study.

“I did a lot of stuff at home on my own,” said freshmen Cierra Frantz.

Overall, 18 students were involved in this year’s Decathlon which included district and regional competitions.

Nine students made it to state competition.

“We prepare in different ways,” said Amelia Deacon, a senior who was among those competing at the state level.

Among the subject areas students considered this year was renewable energy and nature.

Students underwent various preparations for that particular theme, including reading Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.”

“For music, we had some songs to be familiar with,” said sophomore Maranda Garwood.

Some of the students also took turns teaching other students what they were learning, which helped reinforce their education.

Garwood said joining the Academic Decathlon was a chance to learn about different subjects.

“Last year, I was the only freshmen that joined,” said Matthew Marks. “I thought it sounded interesting. You could learn things you wouldn’t normally learn in class.”

For example, Marks noted he picked up aspects of calculus he would not have otherwise learned.

Students noted the difficulty of the competition.

Montoursville captured third place in the Central Region, but finished 13 out of 14 teams at the state level. Five students picked up medals at states.

“I liked doing some of the competitions,” Garwood said. “Even though I heard it was hard, I ended up getting two medals at regionals.”

Hart said students involved in the decathlon will later note how the competition was useful later in life.

“I really liked how you get ready doing interviews and public speaking,” he said.

The camaraderie and bonding is also part of the whole experience, according to Hart.

“It’s learning and testing and fun too,” he said.

The decathlon team members were:

Amelia Deacon

Haylee Young

Kyra Anthony

Ashley Cipcic

Joe Rose

Cassandra Crouse

Maranda Garwood

Keely Houseknecht

Matt Marks

Abe Deacon

Rebecca Fortney

Cierra Frantz

Joel Rhen

Arielle Rood

Sophie Smith

Adam Stugart

Annie Watts

Courtenie Young