Katy students take academic honors

KATY, TX The Seven Lakes High School Academic Decathlon team captured the State 4A Championship March 2, breaking three division 4A records while doing it -- including the state record for highest team score of 47,941 points. The Spartans were the first team in the existence of the competition to take the state title from Friendswood High School, who has won the competition for 15 consecutive years.

The United States Academic Decathlon is a program that provides high school students with the challenges of a rigorous academic competition through participation in team and individual activities. The Academic Decathlon is designed to include students at three academic levels. Each nine-member team consists of three "A" students, three "B" students and three "C" students. Based on GPAs, Varsity is the equivalent to the "C" team; Scholastic, the "B" team; and Honors, the "A" team.

The Seven Lakes Academic Decathlon team not only won first place overall, while scoring record-high points, the team also placed second in the Super Quiz relay and second in the Super Quiz overall score and was the only team to bring home a medal in all three team-medal categories. All nine members of the Seven Lakes Academic Decathlon team received scholarships from the program.

Seven Lakes team members are: Stephen Tu – first place overall scorer, Honors division; Toni Alimi – first place overall scorer, Scholastic division; John Werner – fourth place overall scorer, Scholastic division; Pulkit Moudgil – fourth place overall scorer, Varsity division; in addition to team members Pete Crew, Lauren Hendrickson, Kitty Kovalcik, Franziska Luttge and Susan Xie who helped bring home the state title.

"These kids worked harder than any group of kids I have ever been around. The fact that we increased our overall team score almost 4,000 points from our regional competition score, is a testament to the dedication the team had to winning a state championship," said John Irish, Seven Lakes High School Academic Decathlon head coach. "I feel very honored and lucky to have been a part of this record-setting year."

Stephen Tu set the third Spartan record at the Texas Academic Decathlon competition, finishing as the highest individual scorer in the entire State of Texas among all classifications and was the first individual from a 4A school to break 9,000 points. Only 42 students in the history of Academic Decathlon have broken 9,000 points.

"Seven Lakes head coach, John Irish, is one of the most dedicated, caring individuals – our students could not have asked for a better coach," said Mary Castellucci, Seven Lakes Academic Decathlon assistant coach. "I have enjoyed watching the students work hard to get to the place they find themselves today – state champions!"

In addition to a seven minute interview, the competition is comprised of a one hour essay, two speeches (four minutes prepared and two minutes impromptu), Super Quiz, and written comprehensive exams are given in music, art, language/literature, mathematics, economics and social science.

The final event is the Super Quiz relay, which consists of one student from each school in separated Honors, Scholastic and Varsity categories that compete to answer a series of five questions. Nine rounds of this all-out academic effort is considered one of the most popular events at the competition.

Four other Katy ISD high schools also brought home top honors and competed in the 5A state competition that was based on this year's Academic Decathlon subject – the Civil War and infectious diseases.

The Taylor High School Academic Decathlon team placed sixth overall out of 40 teams. One of the Taylor students also brought home second place as an overall individual scorer – Frank Li, who received a scholarship and placed second in the individual Honors division of Super Quiz, Math, Art and Essay competitions, as well as first place in the Honors division of the Economics and Music competitions. Taylor students won 15 individual medals and finished second in the Super Quiz Relay.

Medal winners from Taylor are: Ryan Mueller – second place in Science and third place in Math, Varsity division; Chris Standley – first place in Speech, Scholastic division; Austin Stuhr – second place in Art and Speech and third place in Science, Scholastic division; and Nadine Tan – third place in Art and Science, Honor's division. Team members who also helped Taylor get sixth place are: Camilo Perez, Jason Eng, Michael Robb and Kayla Adamick.

Medal winners from Cinco Ranch High School are: Alex Buddenbaum – third place in Music, Varsity division and Eric Li – first place in Art and Essay and second place in Music, Honors division.

Cinco Ranch team members who also went to state are: Elizabeth Chen, Jonathon Franklin, Franklin Li, Nadia Nadesan, Narayan Nadesan, Hassan Sefidrou and John-Michael Sequeira.

Katy and Morton Ranch High Schools also competed in the 5A classification of the state competition this year and had many top 10 individual finishers who competed against 120 students in each category.

Katy students who placed in the top 10 are: Michael Fielding – ninth place in Math and 10th place in Economics, Honors division; Valerie LaPlue – eighth place in Language and Literature and 10th place in Music, Varsity division; Nicholas Plosko – sixth place in Ecomomics and 10th place in Language and Literature, Varsity division; and Thomas Schott – 10th place in Math, Varsity division.

Katy team members who also competed in the state competition are: Patricia Alcoseba, Jordan Craig, Timothy Higgs, Andrew Moreno and Brian Wilson.

This year was Morton Ranch High School's first year to compete in the state Academic Decathlon competition. Morton Ranch decathletes that placed in the top 10 are: Kevin Allred – sixth place in Economics and seventh place in Language & Literature, Scholastic division; Rene Lara – ninth place in Interview, Scholastic division; Lisa MacIntyre – seventh place in Language & Literature, Scholastic division; Chanda Nguyen – eighth place in Art and 10th place in Economics, Honors division; and John Stroble – third place in Music and 10th place in Math, Varsity division.

Students who also participated for the Morton Ranch team are: James Borwell, Jennifer Cottrell, Dionna Budd and Ivette Marquez.

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