By Valeri Guevarra, Editor in Chief (‘22)

Even during another pandemic school year, the Indian Hills ACDEC team continued its winning dynasty during the last weekend of January by competing and placing 1st at their Regionals competition. For the past couple of years, the team has consistently placed in the Top-3 at Regionals and as a result, qualified for the state competition.  

ACDEC, short for Academic Decathlon, is a series of interscholastic competitions for high school teams nationwide. At Indian Hills, the club, advised by Mr. Paravati, meets regularly on Wednesday, but recently, they’ve met nearly Monday-Thursday and on Saturdays to prepare for the Regional competition.

The Regional competition (held virtually) included 7 multiple-choice exams in 7 different academic areas, including Art, Music, Social Science, Science, Economics, Literature, and Math, in addition to an interview and an essay (related to the theme of that school year). This year’s theme is water: the most essential resource. The team consists of a maximum of 9 starters and alternates, where there are 3 students per division which based are on GPA (Honors division being students with the highest GPAs, followed by Scholastic, and then Varsity). The final team score is based on the highest 2 scores of each division from the starter team.

The Indian Hills starter team comprised of Captain Cora Mayer-Costa (Honors), Ulysses Bergel (Honors), Joe Park (Honors), Zoe Jacobs (Scholastic), Sarina Dadarwala (Scholastic), Gabriella Susino (Scholastic), Logan Render (Varsity), and Jaedan Orsini (Varsity). The alternate team included Julianna Zelnhefer (Honors), Alexandra Mazur (Honors), Sofia Hasan (Honors), Vidath Diyabalanage (Scholastic), Thomas Picinich (Scholastic), Ian Wuensch (Honors), Kylee Kublin (Honors), Raina Saini (Honors), Christine Peng (Honors), Deana Syrneva (Honors), and Andrew Simmers (Honors). The team competed against the schools in their region, which included Cresskill, Fair Lawn, Kinnelon, Mahwah, Pascack Hills, Pascack Valley, Ramapo, Vernon Township, and Westwood. 

Some individual highlights include: 

  • Cora – Gold overall, Gold in Art and Social Science, Silver in Literature, and Bronze in Music
  • Ulysses – Bronze overall, Gold in Economics and Science, Bronze in Literature 
  • Joe – Gold in Literature and Math, Bronze in Social Science
  • Zoe – Gold in Speech, Silver in Literature, Bronze in Art and Math
  • Sabrina – Bronze overall, Gold in Science, Silver in Art, Bronze in Literature and Social Science
  • Gabriella – Silver in Economics, Bronze in Social Science
  • Logan – Bronze in Math
  • Jaedan – Silver in Social Science

Senior Cora Mayer-Costa commented on how dedicated the team was to prepare for the competition. “We met 5 out of the 7 days of the week each week to be able to put our best foot forward to absolutely bring it at Regionals. I was originally nervous since the team roster drastically changed, but the absolute focus at our meetings in the days leading to states was phenomenal (or maybe it was my promise of donuts that piqued people’s drive..) While the whole idea of reading about water seems daunting at first; our mnemonics and fantastic memes always are a great memorization strategy that definitely helped us all during our tests.” 

Year after year, the IHHS AcDec team is known for both its impressive performances and strong camaraderie. Mayer-Costa noted how “This year we’ve done a lot of extra meetings; it’s definitely the team spirit that’s been built from that of which helped us to win as a team. While the team’s a little too obsessed with composer Claude Debussy, I couldn’t ask for a better group to take on the State competition with.”

Senior Zoe Jacobs mentioned how the team is optimistic about going into the state competition. “Specifically, this year’s team has kept a realistic yet positive outlook the entire season. We knew that getting first at regionals was not only possible but a must.  However, we also understood that with two C-team starters we were possibly at a slight disadvantage. We were ready and prepared and knew the possibilities ahead of us.” 

The IHHS AcDec team will compete at the NJ AcDec State Competition on Saturday, February 26th. The IHHS community wishes them good luck and is excited to see them bring home the gold.