> Welcome Letter
Academic Decathlon® is about the people you’ll meet along the way—the coaches who will mentor you, the competitors who will challenge you, and the teammates who will become your lifelong friends.
There are lots of wonderful academic competitions out there. You can go prove you’re the best writer, or the best physicist, or the best speller.
Academic Decathlon® isn’t about any of that, though. It’s not about demonstrating how good a student you already are. It’s about daring to push your limits, to master college-level material and to practice skills, like public speaking, that might be wholly new to you. It’s about the people you’ll meet along the way—the coaches who will mentor you, the competitors who will challenge you, and the teammates who will become your lifelong friends.
My daughter competed in Academic Decathlon® at three different schools in two states. At one school, she started the team herself, recruiting a teacher and her friends to give the program a try. At another, she joined a team with a long tradition. Both times, I watched her and her teammates share an incredible experience, navigating the challenges of teamwork, leadership, and time management. No other activity, she later said, better prepared her for university.
As Decathletes, you’ll learn an exciting new theme each year, themes like Russia, World War I, and New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation. You’ll explore seven subjects connected to that theme, from art and science to math and economics. You’ll learn to move an audience not just with facts and rhetoric, but with confidence. And you’ll never do any of this alone. You’ll be working with a team—a team composed of students with a wide range of grades but a single shared goal.
You should join the Academic Decathlon® not because that goal will be easy to achieve, but because it will be hard. You and your teammates may study more than you ever have before, not knowing whether you will take home ten medals each—or none at all. The philosopher Mortimer Adler once wrote, “It is only by struggling with difficult books, books over one's head, that anyone learns to read.” I invite you to become part of a program that you may think is over your head, until you realize you can reach higher as a team. I invite you to struggle. And I invite you to learn—not just to read, but to understand; not just to win, but to lead.
Dr. Les Martisko