Did you know the article “Hands that War: The Cordite Makers” by Rebecca West expressed the idea that women as well as soldiers make great sacrifices, or that mutations resulting in defective X chromosome genes affect males more frequently than females?
Did you know Bessie Smith was considered the “Empress of Blues” and Filippo Tommaso Marinetti wrote the first Futurist Manifesto in 1909?
Well, the 220 high school students who competed in Sunday’s 31st Rhode Island Academic Decathlon do.
It was a tough competition between teams from 16 Rhode Island high schools, but in the end the team from Bishop Hendricken High School took first place with 37,969.7 points, winning the opportunity to represent Rhode Island at the national competition next month. It was a long day at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Knight Campus, starting at 9 a.m. until the awards ceremony at 6 p.m.
“We’re wicked pumped,” said Hendricken senior Joseph Sousa after it was announced his team would head to the national competition in Honolulu, Hawaii on April 24 and 25. Sousa was celebrating with the rest of his team, but he had the honor of clutching the first place trophy and holding it high for all to see.
The team, which was made up entirely of seniors, seemed relieved the competition was over, but they were ready to keep working.
“I really can’t tell you how many hours we put into this,” said Ben Capuano, who took home five individual medals. To give an idea, Capuano estimated that in the week leading up to Sunday’s competition the team put in more than 200 hours of studying.
When asked what their next step is, Capuano and Sousa said they would keep practicing.
Although he served as a proctor for the competition’s Super Quiz Relay, Hendricken Principal Jay Brennan said that job was easy compared to sitting in the audience during the event’s “nerve-wracking” award ceremony. He said he kept listening to the individual medal count, hoping the team had enough to come out on top.
“I know how hard these kids work,” said Brennan.
Brennan credited not only the students, but also coach Sister Carol Ann Murray for her dedication to the team.
“She is such an inspiring person,” said Brennan, explaining that whether it is in the classroom or as an advisor for after-school activities, Murray encourages her students to be nothing but the best. “That is the kind of spirit she fills them with. You need to push yourself and challenge yourself.”
It is clear Murray’s encouragement and inspiration paid off; students from Hendricken were the top scorers in each of the competition’s three divisions (varsity, scholastic and honors).
“I’m so proud of them,” said Brennan about the entire team, which took home 40 individual medals. “To have the top scorer in each division is nothing short of remarkable.”
Second place in the overall team competition went to East Greenwich High School with a total of 33,284.8 points.
The team from The Wheeler School in Providence took third with 32,763.6 points.
Wheeler also was awarded the first annual “Making Strides” award, awarded to the team that has the greatest improvement over their score from the previous year’s event. The team improved 23,000 points over their score from the 2013 competition, and the award’s scholarship will cover the team’s entrance fees for next year’s event.
The “Making Strides” award was created in memory of Dr. Augustine Capotosto, who served as vice president of the Rhode Island Academic Decathlon for 24 years, and always worked to promote and recognize the value of academics. His daughter Deanne Capotosto, who presented the award, talked about her father’s commitment to furthering education.
The overall theme of this year’s event was World War I, meaning all areas of competition, with the exception of math, speech and interview, were connect to the history and culture of that time period. Each competitor took a subject test in seven subject areas: Music, art, math, science, language & literature, social science and economics. Each student also delivered a speech and took part in an interview before a panel of judges. There was also an essay portion of competition completed online two weeks ago.
While the students spend most of the day in testing rooms, the public was invited to witness what these students have to learn for competition during the Super Quiz Relay.
For the first time, students worked in groups of three instead of individually to answer 12 multiple choice questions from any of the tested subject areas, except math. Each question had five possible answers.
Once the question was read, the three students had only 10 seconds to discuss and choose their answer. Each correct answer earned the team one point; there were three rounds of questions.
So the audience and fellow teammates could keep track of how the team was answering, one team member would hold up a letter card corresponding to their selected answer. When the correct answer was revealed, cheers erupted from the audience and relief washed over the faces of those teams who answered correctly.
A volunteer proctor checked over the team’s answer, and updated the scorecard behind the team’s seats so the audience could keep track of who was ahead.
Even though the results of the Super Quiz did not have any impact on which team would win the competition, a plaque was still awarded to the top three teams. East Greenwich took first with 25 correct answers out of a possible 36. Hendricken took second place, followed by the team from Johnston High School in third.
In addition to the winning teams, this year’s competition had a few memorable firsts in its 31-year history.
Warwick Veterans Memorial High School sent a total of 24 students to this year’s competition, which resulted in the school having three teams competing.
On the other hand, Warwick’s Pilgrim High School had only one student: Senior Sean Morris competed in every area of competition, except the Super Quiz, as the only member of Pilgrim’s Decathlon team. He earned a total of 3,723.7 points.
Finally, Joseph Zurier of Classical High School was the first competitor in memory to score a perfect 1,000 on the math test.
Rounding out the top 10 teams (in order from fourth to 10th) were Johnston High School, Classical High School, Narragansett High School, South Kingston High School, Warwick Veterans Memorial High School Team 1, Cranston High School West and Warwick Veterans Memorial High School Team 2.
The following students from Warwick high schools took away individual medals:
Bishop Hendricken High School
Jonathan Andrews competed in the Scholastic division, and took home gold medals in music, art, speech and interview, silver medals in science, math, and language & literature, and a bronze medal in economics. Andrews also received the gold medal for top scorer in the Decathlon’s Scholastic division.
Jose Baez competed in the Scholastic division, and took home a bronze medal in math.
Christopher Bianco competed in the Honors division, and took home gold medals in science, and language & literature, silver medals in art, economics and social science, and bronze medals in music and essay. Bianco was also the top overall scorer for the Hendricken team, scoring 8,084.8 points, and received the gold medal for top score in the Decathlon’s Honors division.
Benjamin Capuano competed in the Honors division, and took home gold medals in art and social science, and silver medals in music and language & literature. Capuano also received the silver medal for top overall scorer in the Decathlon’s Honors division.
Liam Corcoran competed in the Honors division, and took home a bronze medal in language & literature.
Joshua DeMelo competed in the Honors division, and took home bronze medals in economics and interview.
Daniel Mason competed in the Scholastic division, and took home a silver medal in music.
Patrick McDonald competed in the Varsity division, and took home gold medals in music, art and social science, silver medals in speech, language & literature, and interview, and a bronze medal in science. McDonald also received the gold medal for top scorer in the Decathlon’s Varsity division.
Joseph Sousa competed in the Varsity division, and took home gold medals in science and math, and a bronze medal in art. He also received a bronze medal for top overall score in the Decathlon’s Varsity division.
Pilgrim High School
Sean Morris was the top overall scorer for the Pilgrim team, scoring 3,723.7 points.
Toll Gate High School
Ashley Ayotte was the top overall scorer for the Toll Gate team, scoring a total of 4,668.6 points
Desiree Neiwert competed in the Varsity division, and took home a bronze medal in music.
Warwick Veterans Memorial High School
Hannah Adams competed in the Varsity division, and took home a silver medal in essay.
Ashley Calci competed in the Varsity division, and took home a silver medal in music.
Catherine Enos competed in the Scholastic division, and took home a gold medal in essay.
Jessica Ferreira was the top scorer for the Vets 3 team, scoring 4,569.1 points.
Joshua Greenwood competed in the Varsity division, and took home a gold medal in essay, a silver medal in social science, and a bronze medal in economics.
Trent Mochel competed in the Scholastic division, and took home a bronze medal in essay.
Gabriel Shaker competed in the Honors division, and took home a gold medal for interview. Shaker was also named the top overall scorer for the Vets 1 team, scoring 4,872.6 points.
Julie Ye was the top overall scorer for the Vets 2 team, scoring 4,370.4 points.