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DaVinci students headed to Texas for national decathlon championship

By Tim Vandenack - | Apr 26, 2023

Photo supplied, DaVinci Academy

This photo shows the DaVinci Academy decathlon team and coaches on March 4, 2023, after the state competition in St. George. Pictured, from left, are students Ben Faris, Riepe Stohel, Victor Houtz and Sebastian Calderas Martinez, coach Debbie Davis, students Emma Craig (also the team captain), Emily Ewert, Julian Mera, Anabelle Jacob and Adan Ochoa-Contreras, and assistant coach Liz Boll.

OGDEN — High school competition isn’t just about jumping, running and other athletic moves.

A contingent of DaVinci Academy students will travel from Ogden to Texas later this week to represent Utah at the U.S. Academic Decathlon national championship competition. They’ll be using their brain power in a test of wits against students from other schools around the country.

“Nationals is intensely competitive,” said Debbie Davis, the decathlon team coach and an English teacher at DaVinci, a charter school. “I hope our team will win individual medals and that we’ll be recognized as one of the top small schools. But it totally depends on how hard other schools have studied and prepared. We have worked hard, and I hope our team’s efforts will merit some awards.”

In qualifying for the Texas event, which goes from Thursday through Saturday, the DaVinci team won the “Championship Trophy” at the state competition at Utah Tech University in St. George, held March 2-4. Team members and supporters subsequently launched a GoFundMe fundraising drive to help cover the costs of traveling to Texas.

Academic decathlon events are team competitions, with students assessed in 10 areas, including science, math, economics, social sciences, literature, music and art. Tests are used for most assessments, but there are also three “performance” components.

Eight DaVinci students will be traveling to Frisco, Texas, for the national competition, repeating a trip that a previous DaVinci class made in 2018 as Utah state champs. The Ogden students will be competing in the “small school” division in Texas.

The DaVinci team takes part in the state championship each year “believing that we will be competitive, but it all depends on which school has studied and practiced the most. This year, we were absolutely jubilant to win,” Davis said.

She emphasized that decathlon teams are composed of students with a range of grade-point averages, “not just academic superstars.” As a teacher, she said, seeing “the incredible growth” among participating students is one of the rewarding aspects of helping with the decathlon team.

Davis said she’s happy to offer guidance to teachers and administrators at other schools interested in forming decathlon teams. She’s reachable at debbie.davis@davinciacademy.org.


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