Volunteers needed for Academic Decathlon
Regional event Friday, Saturday in Yuma
• Test Proctor Training: 3:30 p.m. Some proctors stay to proctor essays until 5 p.m.
• Essay Graders: Training at 5 p.m.; judging follows.
• Speech Judges: Training at 4:20 p.m.; judging follows until 8:35 p.m.
• Interview Judges: Training at 4:20 p.m.; judging follows until 8:35 p.m.
• Test Proctors: 7:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Proctors needed for all tests.
• Super Quiz Proctors: 12:15 to 3:15 p.m.
To volunteer, visit www.yumaunion.org and click on the 2013 Region III Arizona Academic Decathlon Volunteer sign-up link under “Latest News” or call Amy White at 502-4656.
Months of preparation are finally coming to fruition as students from around the state gear up for the Region III Arizona Academic Decathlon.
About 160 students from Cochise, Greenlee, Pima, Santa Cruz and Yuma counties are expected to compete at Gila Ridge High School, 7150 E. 24th St., on Friday and Saturday.
While the Yuma Union High School District has received a good response from the community in terms of volunteers for the event, it is still looking for about 30 more people the community to do things like judge speeches and interviews and evaluate essays. Training will be provided for volunteers in whatever role they select, said tournament coordinator Frank Núñez.
He added that this will be a great opportunity for members of the community to not only give back by volunteering at the event but to also see the product of the students' countless hours of studying.
While high school students have the opportunity to sign up for an Academic Decathlon class during the school year, Núñez said, the bulk of their time studying and practicing for the competition is spent before and after school.
“I was a decathlete as a student, a coach and now a coordinator. There are some days where students put in at least four hours of work — practicing, studying, discussing the topics, taking exams to get better — and sometimes that will happen two or three times a week and that's outside of the school day. Just like a football coach calls a practice on a Saturday, decathlon coaches call practice on Saturdays on a regular basis or on a weeknight.”
The Academic Decathlon competition, which this year is themed around Russia, includes tests in art, music, language and literature, mathematics, economics, science and social science. Communication tests include writing an essay, delivering a prepared and an impromptu speech, and being interviewed.
“These students kind of go by as unseen in the community and they might not be aware of how much dedication these students and their teacher coaches are putting into studying,” Núñez said. “They don't just study and compete in one area, they have to take 10 events and understand them at the depth that they can answer interview questions that they can write critical essays on and that they can answer these high-level rigorous questions on the written exams.”
Núñez said that while the district holds city tournaments for students in Yuma yearly, the regional tournament shifts locations every two years and hasn't been hosted locally for the past 10.
“Academic Decathlon is a very challenging and rigorous course of study and it's great to see students who voluntarily choose this curriculum in order to compete with their peers and against their peers across the state and across the country in this tournament. The one thing I can say for generations to come is that as long as we have decathletes, we have a bright future of students who are willing to accept the challenges that might be thrown at them.”
Tricia Ellsworth, an Academic Decathlon coach at Gila Ridge High School, said that in addition to great study habits, students learn to work together as a team and how to present a speech to an audience.
Ellsworth, a nine-year coach and social studies teacher, said that people from the community should come out and see what the students are capable of.
“I really enjoy it, I love working with the kids and the challenge that comes with it. It's new every year so it's never the same topic all the time ... Most people we have judge return again the next year because they had such a good time doing it. It's something new and most people don't know much about it, but if you just give it a shot you're really going to be surprised by what you find.”
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.