Members of Oakwood High School’s Academic Decathlon National Championship team. (From left to right) Cameron Hendrix, Rebecca Gentry, Sam Carryer, Connor Hart. TREMAYNE HOGUE / STAFF

Local school dominates on national academic stage

The team competed in the National Academic Decathlon competition in Madison, Wis., last month, after winning their seventh consecutive state title.

Oakwood junior Sam Carryer said the team’s preparation during the course of nearly a year gave them confidence going into the national competition.

“The confidence from knowing we have been studying for countless hours a day, I think that helps us realize we are a pretty good team,” Carryer said, a first time competitor on the national stage.

Lori Morris, Oakwood’s AcaDec coach for 10 years, said there are 32 students in the program. Over those 11 months, students usually study up to 40 hours for the decathlon, on top of their other school work. Students take it upon themselves to build study groups to keep their minds sharp, Morris said.

“That’s really what makes this team successful is coming together as a team before scores or any evaluations,” Morris said.

Those 32 students then compete to make the nine-student roster that competes in the national competition.

Morris, a University of Dayton graduate, took over the AcaDec program her first year at the school. She said going from college to leading the program at Oakwood was overwhelming at first.

Now, 10 years later, she’s still coaching a team of students who consistently represents Oakwood, Dayton and Ohio on a national stage, Morris said.

“Nothing is more rewarding than seeing these kids achieve what I know they can achieve,” Morris. “It’s a rewarding experience as an educator.”

During competition, students are placed into three categories, based on their GPA: Varsity (2.999 and below), Scholastic (3.0 - 3.749) and Honor (3.750 - 4.0).

Each student then competes in 10 events centered around one subject to help build the best total score in their respective divisions. The highest score possible, per event, is 1,000. This year’s subject was World War II.

Senior Honors student Connor Hart, was the school’s highest scorer with over 8,000 total points. When it was all said and done, Oakwood as a team finished with 48,823 points, which placed them behind Granada Hills Charter High School (Calif.) and Highland Park High School (Texas) for the highest scoring teams in the competition, regardless of division.

Morris said it came down to the students wanting to uphold Oakwood’s AcaDec legacy and representing Ohio “as best as we can.”

Members of the 2017 championship team are seniors Hart, Rey Arcenas, Clay Goertemiller, John Jones and Matt Koch; Carryer; and sophomores Rebecca Gentry and Will Janning and Cameron Hendrix.

Paul Waller has been the principal at Oakwood for eight years and was able to see the students being presented with their medals.

“As a principal I couldn’t be more proud,” Waller said. “I know how hard these kids work. To see them crying after we won the division three title, it was amazing.”