LOWELL | The New York Yankees missed the World Series last October, and the New England Patriots will be watching this Sunday's Super Bowl on TV, but as dynasties go, the Lowell High School Academic Decathlon team did not disappoint, winning the Kankakee Valley Regional on Jan. 19 to advance to the Indiana Academic Decathlon State Finals for the 14th consecutive season.
The Academic Decathlon, sponsored in the Hoosier state by the Indiana Association of School Principals, is a national competition that touts itself as the most rigorous academic competition in America.
Nine students from three different grade-point ranges compete individually in 10 subjects that focus on a common theme: speech, interview, essay, art, music, economics, math, history, science, and literature, then gather as a team for the Super Quiz contest.
"This year’s theme is Russia, and students have studied topics like ballet, Marc Chagall’s art, the history of Communism, Russian economics, Peter the Great, 'Dr. Zhivago,' and hundreds more topics," said longtime LHS Academic Decathlon coach and English teacher Joseph Gianotti.
At the Kankakee Valley Regional, Lowell was led by Dakota Pociask and Baylee Bunce, two juniors who medaled 10 times each, only missing out on one subject, while outscoring the other 70 students from eight different schools. Lowell seniors Emily King and Katie Wilkey also took first place overall in their respective divisions.
Junior Emma Turner finished second in her division, while senior Mikayla Blievernicht finished third. Senior Eli Ceiga and junior Katie Stinnett each medaled in six subjects, while sophomore Maggie Stinnett, competing in the vaulted Honors Division, brought home three medals.
Rounding out Lowell's team are senior Maureena Miller, junior Shanya Turner and sophomore Veronica Miller, along with coach Christine Hickman.
Lowell High School won the academic decathlon state championship in 2004 and 2006. They have finished runner-up five times, most recently in 2009, and placed third in 2012, while Gianotti was one of three Indiana Academic Coach Of The Year finalists in the Senior Division last fall.
Lowell's team score at the KV Regional was the second highest in the state as they head to Stewart Center at Purdue University in West Lafayette for the Feb. 8-9 state finals.