Academic decathletes win gold
Months of practice and study paid off for Trumbull’s Academic Decathlon team, which recently won the state competition and earned a trip to the national competition. The win was Trumbull’s fourth in the past few years, following wins in 2011, 2012 and 2016.
The academic competition involves 10 different areas of study, including art history, essay writing, science experiments, math problems, and more. Unique in academic competitions, the decathlon also requires that each team include students from a cross-section of the school, including some students with pedestrian grade point averages.
“Even though there are more of them, it’s much more difficult recruiting students with average GPAs onto the team,” said coach Dean Pelligra, who along with co-coach Sara Ellis spent months preparing the team for the state competition. “The kids with a 2.8 GPA maybe have never thought of themselves as being an academic competitor, but it really gives them confidence when they realize that they are a valuable part of the team.”
The sense of camaraderie extends to other teams, too, said Sophie Calandro, the lone freshman on the team, who medaled in literature and interview.
“One of my favorite memories has to be playing cards with both our team and members from other teams,” she said. “Even though we were competing against each other, everyone could still sit down and enjoy themselves.”
Junior Vittorio Colicci said that while a school club dedicated to doing additional schoolwork might not sound like fun, the rigorous study actually was a rewarding experience.
“The team spent months preparing, teaching ourselves the information and holding weekly study sessions, and ultimately it paid off,” he said. “It’s the team dynamic that develops that makes it all worthwhile. Each time we meet we work to further one another’s understanding of the material at hand, making each medal won a success for everyone.”
Team Co-President Daejah Woolery said academic competitions teach the value of hard work.
“ A notable moment in the competition was the speech,” she said. “I have always loved public speaking, but for the first time I left feeling unsure of my score. In the end I surprised myself by getting a gold medal for my speech. I would say my hard work paid off in that moment.”
Daejah said her leadership position on the team prepared her for a leadership role after high school.
“I feel like I get to explore the facets of leadership while also learning to work with people,” she said. “I think the team has made my job a bit easier, though — it’s such a great group of people they make it easy to want to put in the work.”