LHS and its AD Team of 8 Take 2nd Place, Advances to Minnesota

LARAMIE -- Eight Laramie High School students attended Academic Decathlon March 17 – 18 in Casper. And for the second straight year, Laramie High School won second place. Wheatland High School was the first-place winner. Because Wyoming won a lottery to allow two teams to compete in the National Academic Decathlon, Laramie has the privilege of being the Division IV competitor for the national competition April 25 - 27 in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Nichol Bondurant, LHS teacher and coach of the AD team, said the eight team members participated in 10 events: the creation of an essay, a resume, a prepared speech, an extemporaneous speech, an interview, 7 tests, and a “super quiz” between all competing schools. The theme of study for this year was the 1960s. The students have been studying for months to prepare for this event.

From left, back row: Carlos Franco, Will Daley-Green; Middle row: Jayden Leach, Harlie Kaligis, Grace Abawe, Arundathi Nair; Front row: Nichol Bondurant, Perla Nunez, MaryGrace Buckner. (Courtesy of Perla Nunez)

“Every single student competing was also awarded a medal for individual success in competitions,” said Bondurant. “They worked so hard. They gave up several lunches per week to study for the exams, prepare their speeches, and they also fund-raised in their free time after school.

“They really spearheaded this entire event. I was more a cheering section than someone who needed to coach them along because they are so organized, diligent, and dedicated.”

Arundathi Nair, a junior, won the Wyoming Academic Decathlon Spirit Award with a $250 scholarship because of her positive attitude and hard work for the Laramie team.

“Aru actually organized having an ‘Acadeca’ team at LHS and is responsible for recruiting most of the members of this winning team. She is the embodiment of a positive spirit,” Bondurant said. “Aru made the Academic Decathlon for Laramie High a reality because it started as an idea she had two years ago that we should have a team.”

Sophomore Harlie Kaligis was also awarded a scholarship for being the bronze winner with the highest overall score for all honors competitors.

Bondurant said for students to be in the honors division, they must have a GPA of 3.75 or over. A GPA of 3.74 – 3.00 is for those in the Scholastic Division. Competitors with under a 3.0 GPA will be in the Varsity division. A team should have 3 members in each division and must have at least 8 competitors to be an Academic Decathlon team.

Medals awarded for Laramie High School students in the Honors division: Kaligis won silver in Economics, a bronze in Science, a silver for the essay competition, and a gold for the speech competition. Nair won a gold medal for the mathematics competition and a gold medal with a perfect score in the interview competition. Sophomore Grace Abawe was a winner with a bronze in Mathematics and a silver in Social Sciences.

In the Scholastic division, Junior Jayden Leach received a bronze in Economics, bronze in language and literature, gold in Music, silver in Social Science, and silver in the essay. Will Daley-Green, a junior, received a silver in Mathematics.

In the Varsity division, Junior Mary Grace Buckner received a bronze in Art and a silver in the interview competition. Sophomore Perla Nunez received a silver in Economics and a bronze in Social Science. Junior Carlos Franco received a gold medal in Science, a bronze in the interview and a bronze in the essay competition.

The team is excited to start studying, fundraising, and getting ready for a great competition representing Wyoming in the National Competition, said Bondurant.

“These students are exemplars of how academic competitiveness is as equal and exciting as athletic competitiveness. I’m so proud of the team for their drive and dedication and of course, their academic brilliance.”