Whiz kids face intense weeks of studying



Simple childhood games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders become rigorous tests of brain power in the hands of Tioga High School's Academic Decathlon team members.

Instead of rolling dice to advance, the eight students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, have changed the rules to the once-easy games so that they must answer tough questions to compete.

Last week, while most Tioga High students enjoyed their Presidents Day vacation, the Academic Decathlon team was holed up in teacher Charlene Wrighton's Pine Mountain Lake home, preparing for the state competition being held March 7-9 in Modesto.

This will be the seventh year a Tioga High team has competed at the state level.

For the study week, Wrighton stocked her kitchen with bags of chips and plenty of coffee and caffeinated tea to keep the team members peppy through long hours of flipping countless flashcards, rewriting and practicing speeches and playing their altered versions of Trivial Pursuit, Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders.

The kids on the team mostly ignored a box of large binders with spines labeled music, economics, art and mathematics, having pored over them to win the county competition at the beginning of this month.

"We're just reviewing, getting the facts back in our heads, preparing," said senior Sean Rogers.

But last week was a cake walk compared to what the students call "hell week" the week before any competition when they are excused from school to spend 24 hours a day together in an unoccupied vacation house for uninterrupted study.

The close-knit kids will only be able to leave the house for the various extracurricular activities they participate in basketball, volleyball, yearbook, student council and drama. They will make up their classwork after the decathlon.

But the eight have become accustomed to rigorous studying since they started meeting in July to absorb the reams of material needed to win the county competition, which they did Feb. 1.

The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Friday October 21, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Sheriff details investigation of Marshall murder-suicide


Philip Marshall acted alone in killing his two teenage children, a pet ... more

Donnell Vista: Majestic and mystifying


Donnell Vista Point on Highway 108 is a remote and mystifying lookout ... more

Columbia Elementary board ousts superintendent


Five days after receiving a 2 percent raise, Columbia Union School District ... more

Realms of Darkness won’t haunt this year


The popular 4-H-produced haunted house “Realms of Darkness” in Sonora will not ... more

County wants changes on wildfire risk assessment


Tuolumne County officials are preparing to fight in Sacramento for local residents ... more