Canyon Del Oro High School Academic Decathalon

The Canyon Del Oro High School Academic Decathalon team.

Courtesy Photo

Competing schools at the Arizona Academic Decathlon finals better watch out for Canyon Del Oro High School.

Fresh off its 12th consecutive Region III victory in Yuma, the Dorados’ team, which was awarded more than $80,000 in prize money for the effort, now looks to take that momentum to state competition, which will be held on March 8-9 at Arizona State University.

The Dorados have more than held their own in past state competitions, winning it all in 2006, 2009, and 2011. Currently ranked second in the state, and with a team score that is eighth best in the nation, the Dorados will compete against 40 teams from around the state. 

CDO’s team is made up of nine decathletes – one from each of the required categories – to include three “honor students” (3.75 grade point average or higher), three “scholastics” (3.0-3.75 GPA), and three “varsity” (below 3.0 GPA). 

“It’s a great mixture of kids who are all bright and interested in learning and proving themselves,” said 14th-year coach and Mathematics Department Chair Chris Yetman. 

The team will compete in a total of 10 events relating to a predetermined topic. This year’s topic is Russian culture.

Participants will take written tests in art history, economics, music, literature, history, math and science. In addition, the students will give a prepared speech, impromptu speech, and will be interviewed by a panel of judges. 

“By the end of this, they will have a very deep understanding of the topic at a college level,” said Yetman. “By the end of the year, they know so much about the topic they can have a sophisticated conversation with anyone about Russian culture.”

Yetman said the team will prepare for state as usual – reading, practicing, and rereading. 

As tedious as that may sound, CDO senior Powell Brumm recognizes the benefits the program has provided in his life.

“There is quite a bit you can take away from this,” he said. “I’ve found that it has generally helped me become more organized, and helped me find what I enjoy, because it has exposed me to so much.”

Powell, who was recruited to the team, didn’t know quite what to expect at first, but he will graduate without regretting joining.

“I wish I had joined sooner,” he said. “There are so many interesting people on the team, and I wish I could have enjoyed it all sooner.”

Powell recently placed second in regional competition in the varsity category. 

Though only nine members compete at a time, about 30 students make up the CDO Decathlon Team. Regardless of whether or not each student gets the chance to compete, there are lasting effects from the program.

“Every year, grads tell me how important it was for them in college,” said Yetman. “There are tons of stories about students who put their learned skills to use and were successful later on. They learn study skills for college, time management skills, speaking skills, writing skills, and more than anything, they get to be part of a team that makes lifetime friends.”

The nine members making up the CDO Academic Decathlon team competing at state are Rose Booth, Rebecca Gosla, Powell Brumm, Jason Trainor, Alex Molina, Annaleise Grant, Maria Elena Pakulis, Jakub Safar, and Jake Rockland.

The speech and interview portion of the competition will be held on the evening of Friday, March 8. The seven test sessions will be held on Saturday, March 9 at ASU West, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, Glendale.

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