LOWELL | The Lowell High School Academic Decathlon team leaves Wednesday for Honolulu, Hawaii, to compete in the U.S. Academic Decathlon Nationals.
They'll compete against teams from across the country and Great Britain.
Last year, as Indiana runner-up in the larger school division, the team went to the USDA Nationals in Minneapolis.
Raising money for that trip was training for the major fundraising effort required this year to send the team to Hawaii.
"We would need to sell 72,000 candy bars to pay for the entire trip," said Joe Gianotti, team coach and Lowell High English teacher.
While the students, Tri-Creek faculty and staff and others have been selling candy bars since learning March 18 the team made nationals, the students have made the rounds of civic groups and businesses and been the beneficiaries of fundraisers on their behalf.
Earlier this month, team members worked the Lions Club breakfast under assistant coach Christine Hickman's direction after getting a nice donation from the civic group.
Ariana Roman, a junior who's in her first year with the team, helped clear tables.
Excited about her first trip to Hawaii, Ramon said she's enjoyed reading the novels, poems and short stories of the World War I period, the USAD's theme this year.
The interview portion of the competition is a favorite.
"I've had the opportunity to learn one of the most valuable life skills out there and gain a bit of an edge over my peers when it comes to the workplace," she said.
There are nine students on each USAD team competing in 10 events on one topic.
There are three A honor students, three B scholastic students and three C varsity students and alternates on each team.
Students compete in art history, an interview, science, language and literature, music, math, social science, essay writing, speech preparation and economics.
Gianotti said he's learned in past years not all school communities are supportive of their decolletes.
"I think our kids feel really, really appreciated at Lowell High School," he said.
Ramon concedes it's not easy to balance school with the thrice weekly team practices, fundraising and other aspects of her life, but it's worth it. "I have really been taught how to make the best of my time. ... My teachers have all been really supportive and willing to help prepare ... the team for nationals.
The schedule won't be completely competition. Trips to Pearl Harbor, the Hawaii Art Museum and the Waikiki Aquarium are planned.