AcDec team at EHS a success

Lindsay Crenwelge fought to have a team at EHS and students are excited.
Academic Decathlon team placed 2nd at the Mountain Vista Invitational
Academic Decathlon team placed 2nd at the Mountain Vista Invitational

There are very few students who would think it was fun to take seven multiple-choice tests, do two performance events, and write an essay, all in one day, but those students exist and they are at Englewood High School. 

The Academic Decathlon, also called AcDec is an annual high school academic competition organized by the non-profit United States Academic Decathlon (USAD). 

According to the site, the official website for the United States Academic Decathlon, Dr. Robert Peterson came up with the idea of a decathlon of studies while a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany.  It would take Peterson until 1968 for schools in Orange County, California, to take part in the program and then it was expanded nationally in 1981.

Academic Decathlon team placed 2nd at the Mountain Vista Invitational

Dr. Peterson wanted to make sure students of all academic ability could take part and actually required each team to include not just students with the highest grade point averages, but also those with “B” and “C” averages. Dr. Peterson believed everyone would benefit in different ways, “whether it was the A students practicing new social skills or the C students building new study habits.”

At EHS, there are 17 members of AcDec including sophomore Dante Lopez Peralta. He loves the level of difficulty,  “You have to learn about a lot of stuff. A lot of topics. Yeah, there’s a variety of topics you get to learn about what are the steps you do to prepare for your competitions.” 

To prepare, he spends a lot of time reading, “For the competitions, I read through. I skimmed the parts that I know I’m not going to do that well on and then I also and then I thoroughly read through the things I think I’m going to do.” 


Sophomore Henry Zies says the process is enjoyable, “We just have to study. Just keep repeating, learn, remember.” 

Academic Decathlon team placed 2nd at the Mountain Vista Invitational

Lindsay Crenwelge is the academic adviser for the group, “I got to know about Academic Decathlon in 2016 when I was teaching in Texas. One of my good friends started a team at Little Elm High School and had a lot of success. I was always amazed at how enthusiastic the kids in the program were. I also saw the most successful decathletes looking into some of the most elite universities and having the skills necessary to not only get in but continue to have academic achievements throughout their college years.”


She went in front of the Englewood School Board last year to create a team at EHS, “Starting a team here was a struggle at first because Colorado is not a huge AcDec state. In Texas, there are over 1,000 schools that compete each year. Colorado only has four as of this year. Colorado also is a difficult state to meet for competitions due to weather and a lack of funding in public education. Despite all of this, we currently have 13 students in the program with 11 of them in the class. For a school our size, this is a huge success for our second year.”

AcDec Competitions
AcDec team competes at event in October.
AcDec team competes at event in October.
Academic Decathlon team placed 2nd at the Mountain Vista Invitational at the start of October.

They collectively earned 26 medals for their knowledge in the 7 tested subjects. The following Decathletes proudly represented Englewood High School at the competition:




Honors Division

Elliot McConnell (Jr) - 1st place Literature; 2nd place Science

Olivia Alvarenga (Soph.)

Lucy Walker (Soph.) - 3rd place Literature


Scholastic Division

Sarah Claveria (Jr.) - 2nd place Music; 3rd place Science

Erin Hoglund (Jr.) - 3rd place Economics

Peyton Ayres (Soph.)

Hailey Darras (Soph.)

Abby Husbands (Soph.) - 1st place Art; 2nd place Science; 3rd place Social Science

Dante Lopez (Soph.) - 1st place Social Science; 1st place Science; 3rd place Art


Varsity Division

Caches Cunningham (Soph.) - 2nd place Social Science; 2nd place Economics; 3rd place Art

Serenity Griego (Soph.)

Rafael Lopez (Soph.) - 1st place Overall Score Varsity Division; Tied 1st place Social Science; 1st place Math; 1st place Science; 3rd place Music

Henry Zies (Soph.) - 2nd place Overall Score Varsity Division; Tied 1st place Social Science; 1st place Art; 2nd place Music; 3rd place Literature; 3rd place Science


Crenwelge is very proud of these students for how well they can perform, “Despite the academic challenges and potential burnouts, the kids who push through find a lot of personal success and pride once they achieve specific goals we set for them.” 


Some students may say that AcDec is a struggle and you have to learn a lot of information simultaneously. Crenwelge says there is a large amount of reading and work that goes into the preparation for competitions and quizzes. “Unfortunately, the greatest obstacle is the sheer amount of reading they have to do in the program. They practically memorize over 1,000 pages of information covering Art, Economics, Literature, Music, Math, Science, and Social Science in addition to learning how to interview and give a speech.” 


Crenwelge says it is worth all the hard work to see the students grow, “It always makes me glow with pride when I see the smiles on their faces after getting a medal or getting the highest score on a specific test. It’s also nice to see many students bonding and becoming a team. Many academically gifted kids don’t have the opportunity to experience a team effort or team mentality if they don’t get involved in sports. In the end, we are a team of decathletes all working to get the highest collective score. The greatest success will come in a few years once these kids have been in the program for a while. The opportunities this program opens for them in their post-secondary life is worth it.”


She finds a lot of joy in seeing the students shine, “Personally, I love to learn, and teaching the same thing every year gets to be redundant. Academic Decathlon has a new topic each year. As the coach, I get to learn and study along with the team while also helping them acquire various skills for personal growth. It’s also nice to see different students start taking on leadership roles on the team and organizing study cards or after-school practices.” 


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