Westover High School defended its PAGE State Academic Decathlon championship this past weekend at Gwinnett High School in Duluth. Standing with Principal William Chunn, are team members, from left, Willie Tyson, Lloyd Fisher, Reggie Mosley, Amie Loudermilk, Austin Moody, Evan Drew, Alex Donnan, Kwasi Wrensford, Anne Belocura, Cole Hankins, Tim Barkley and team coach Brian Collie.
DULUTH, Ga. -- Westover High School's Academic Decathalon team defended its 2011 title this past weekend at Gwinnett High School, winning the PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) state championship.
The Academic Decathlon is unique because it is not limited to high-achieving students. Preparation, participation and competition include high school students from ninth through 12th grades.
A unique aspect of Academic Decathlon is the design to include students from all academic backgrounds. Each nine-member team consists of 3 "A" students, 3 "B" students and 3 "C" students. School officials say often the "C" students -- perhaps never academically motivated before -- perform the best.
Some students who once performed average work excel in the competition and experience continued academic success after the event.
"The success of our Academic Decathlon team shows that students of every ability can achieve when they are dedicated and diligent about their education." team coach Brian Collier said. "No matter their GPA (0.0-4.0), no matter what mistakes they made in the past, students are eligible to compete in Academic Decathlon if they prove that they are willing to study, to be a team player and do their best. There is a lesson here for all of us. If you were successful in the past, build on that foundation for today's accomplishments.
"If you struggled in the past, use the lessons you learned to achieve victory in the future."
Individual award winners were:
-- Cole Hankins -- Bronze Medal (Music)
-- Evan Drew -- Gold Medal (Language & Literature and Overall), Bronze Medal (Economics)
-- Austin Moody -- Gold Medal (Interview)
-- Alex Donnan -- Gold Medal (Interview and Overall)
-- Kwasi Wrensford -- Gold Medal (Essay and Overall)
Members of the Westover team are Willie Tyson, Lloyd Fisher, Reggie Mosley, Amie Loudermilk, Moody, Drew, Donnan, Wrensford, Anne Belocura, Hankins and Tim Barkley.
"In my first year as principal in 2009, then superintendent Sally Whatley informed me that Westover was the only high school in Dougherty County without an Academic Decathlon Team," Westover Principal William Chunn said. "I gave her my word that Westover would have a team next year, and we did. In three short years, Westover has won three district titles and two state titles.
"This is a true testament of the great academic programs we have here at Westover, the academic commitment of our faculty and staff, and our students' ability to maintain the academic focus daily. I am very proud of them all."
Westover's team now advances to the United States Academic Decathalon National Finals to be held April 26-27 in Albuquerque, N.M..
The team finished 12th nationally in last year's finals.