Monday, April 20, 2015

An Academic National Champion!

Academic Competition: Last week our Academic Decathlon team went to California to compete in the Academic Decathlon National Championship. Coming off of a convincing New York State Championship, the group was excited to travel and compete against the other top teams in the Nation.

Academic Decathlon ( started as an idea by Dr. Robert Peters while he was a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany. He was a downed B-17 pilot and wrote in his journal that "students ought to have a decathlon of studies". When he returned from the war and became a school Superintendent, he started the first Academic Decathlon competition in 1968 in Bolsa Grande, California. The competition takes students from three academic flights (based on grade point averages) through scholastic competitions that cover academics, speeches, and interviews.

Some schools offer a separate curriculum called "Academic Decathlon" right during the school day in order to be as competitive as possible. West Genesee banks on a solid well-rounded curriculum that ALL students receive. The team uses that knowledge plus expert coaching by Scott Duda, our advisor and science teacher, to be as competitive as possible.

I am very proud to announce that while the whole team did not win the National championship, senior Domtilla Magunga won a Gold medal for the "Interview" portion of the competition, making her a National class academic achiever! Congratulations to Domtilla and please congratulate her when you see her!

Athletic Competitions: It was a great weekend to be a Wildcat. Both lacrosse teams won very difficult competitions, and our baseball team secured a convincing win in front of many college scouts. If the weather cooperates, they will all be in play along with softball, girls golf, and track which are also having strong seasons so far.

Up Next, Math Assessments: We wrap up the 3-8 New York State Assessments this week with the Math portion. About 18% of our students did not take the English portion of the assessments, and many have asked what kind of penalty that might bring to the District. If fewer than 95% of the students are tested there can be state or federal penalties levied.

I have some people that I trust in the business, and at this point I do not believe there will be any state financial penalties given to our school for not meeting the 95% tested. On the state side, I believe that the tests taken will be scored, and the results will be used in teacher, principal, and building overall scores.

On the Federal side, I think that Split Rock Elementary School is at risk of losing their federal "Reward School" distinction for having sustained academic success. The "95% rule" is a part of this distinction, so my fear is that federally the school will lose the distinction and the $50,000 grant that comes with the distinction. I am going to write some letters and call people in hopes that Split Rock Elementary School will not suffer while New York State is going through an educational revolution. Keep your fingers crossed.

Thank you for your continued support and enjoy the week!