WHITING | After a long year of studying, building and competing, the Whiting High School Science Olympiad team earned third place at the state competition that took place March 16 at IU Bloomington. The team was only a few points short of advancing to nationals, falling behind second place Bloomington North and first place Munster. However, it wasn’t until a few days after the competition that the team discovered that the third place trophy would be theirs; they left the campus that night thinking that they had come in sixth, but due to a scoring error, the team moved into third place.
Gold medals were awarded to senior Brianna Scivinsky and sophomore Mark Casanova for their event “Elastic Launch Glider.”
Silver medals were awarded to senior Johnny Blood and junior Jorge Vazquez in their event “MagLev.”
Third place medals were awarded to Vazquez and sophomore Nolan Michniewicz in their event “Rocks and Minerals.”
Whiting had an overall team score of 173, which put them ahead of Bloomington South by only two points.
The emotions are mixed as the team closed its season. Although the team is overwhelmed with maintaining their third place title, they wonder if there was anything more they could have done in preparing for state.
Senior Brianna Scivinsky said that the state competition felt like any other, even after a long season of record-setting success.
“It was kind of sad, she said, “because we knew it was our last competition together, but at the same time, it was really exciting because we knew that a lot of the newer team members have a whole new beginning for them.”
According to senior Luke Matulewicz, they just couldn’t catch a lucky break this year.
“I feel that we did everything we should have,” he stated, “but the lucky break just wasn’t there, even after our best season on record.”
Co-sponsor Mr. Dan Nichols said, “There was an excitement in the air as we were competing. The students performed very well, earning their third place finish.”
It’s a difficult time for the seniors of the team, now that the season is over, to accept that their time on Science Olympiad is up. Some of these seniors have been participating in Science Olympiad ever since they were in third grade; Matulewicz is one of them.
“At some point,” he said, “you stop being a team and you become a family. That’s my favorite part about it. At the beginning of the year, you start off as a team. By the end of the year, we drop the idea that we’re just a team and we pretty much become a family.”
Even Mr. Nichols finds it hard to say goodbye to the seniors. “The seniors have continued the tradition of excellence that Science Olympiad has established here at WHS,” he stated. “Our seniors should be very proud of all the accomplishments over the past four years.”
With the bittersweet leaving of our seniors, there is always an excitement in welcoming incoming members of the team. Freshman Michael Kovalo said that joining the team this year was a positive experience for him and he anticipates what next year’s round of competitions will bring.
“It was a new experience,” Kolavo said. “I was in Science Olympiad in third grade, but it’s nowhere near as competitive as this.”
All in all, it was a very successful year for the team; they exceeded their own expectations as they set the bar higher than ever for next year. Having that said, Mr. Nichols and Co-sponsor Jeremy Long are ready for whatever challenges the team faces in years to come.
“The best part for me,” said Mr. Nichols, “was helping 28 students realize that hard work and dedication make anything possible.”