Aca Deca Making Their Presence Known Within Pascack Hills


Clubs are an important part of any high school student’s life. Extra-curricular activities allow students to pursue interests they have that might not be addressed in school, or to learn about these interests in greater detail. One such extra-curricular activity that is coming in the new year is the Academic Decathlon.


The Academic Decathlon, also known as Aca Deca, is an annual high school competition that consists of a total of 10 events. These events include seven multiple choice questions, an essay component, and an interview. Nine students compete in three different levels; honors, scholastic, and varsity. There can also be three alternates for each level, totaling to a maximum of six students to a level.


Contrary to popular belief, the academic decathlon is not the same as DECA, although both clubs are run by Hills teacher, Corin Gamgort. While DECA is strictly business oriented, the academic decathlon covers a wide range of topics under the umbrella of one, larger topic. This year the topic is Africa, and competitors must learn about African geography, art, literature, mathematics, sciences, history, music, and economics.


This year the academic decathlon team is bigger than it ever has been in the past. The team is mostly sophomores, with several juniors and one senior. Although there are no freshmen on the team, anyone in the school can compete, regardless of grade.


“I didn’t even know we had an academic decathlon,” said freshman Melissa Maday. “I’d never heard of it before.”


While just six students have signed up in previous years, the minimum for assembling a team, this year 26 students signed up. Gamgort is hoping for the club to keep growing in upcoming years as more and more students become aware of its existence.


Despite this large number of students signed up this year, only 18 can be selected to compete at the first event that takes place January 27 at Ramapo College. The teams have not been formed yet, but the team one is on is determined by their GPA. Students’ GPAs will be unweighted and then compared. The three students with the highest GPAs will compete at the varsity level, the three students with the second highest GPAs will compete at the scholastic level, and so forth.


However, GPA isn’t the only determining factor of whether someone can compete or not. Even if someone has a lower GPA, they could be stronger in other areas, such as the interview or the essay. Ones GPA shouldn’t discourage them from joining the team, as they will still be able to compete and have fun.


The academic decathlon has a great effect on Pascack Hills and the students who participate in it.


“It gives another venue for students to compete academically and build their problem solving and interpersonal skills,” says Gamgort, co-advisor of the club along with Jordan Saxon.


“It exposes them to a topic the wouldn’t normally be exposed to and allows them to study it in greater detail, and across numerous subjects. Aca Deca tests everything, and the combination of competitiveness and fun makes for a really great environment,” Gamgort continued


As the year trickles along, Hills can expect to hear all the great news coming back from students partaking in this important academic club.