After winning their second consecutive regional competition in February, Saint Viator’s academic team advanced to the Academic Challenge, sponsored by the University of Illinois and its Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering initiative.
To punch their ticket to the state finals, the team had five students finish at the top of their subjects at sectionals —and the team’s overall scores earned the entire team a berth to state as a wildcard entry. The state contest takes place April 20 in Champaign.
“This is huge for us,” said Mrs. Cate Majka, who accompanied the team with Mrs. Jan Grana, both physics teachers. “We had a really strong showing at both regionals and sectionals. Personally, I think it speaks to the rigor of our schoolwide curriculum.”
Competition at the sectional meet was tough. It took place at Vernon Hills High School, where 12 teams from the large school division—who all had placed first or second at their respective regionals—went head to head.
Saint Viator students who helped lead the team include:
- Paulina Piwowarczyk, 1st place in English and she also qualified in Biology
- Jenny Chen, 2nd place in Math and she also qualified in Physics
- Stephen Hannon, third place in English and Computer Science
- Jeremy Yoder, tied for third place in English
- Zac Jones qualified in English and Biology
The Academic Challenge dates back more than 25 years, but this was only the second year Saint Viator entered a team. Each year, the contest is offered to high school students in Illinois and Missouri by more than 50 community colleges and universities.
The test material is drawn from senior high school and freshman level college curricula and is written by teams of college and university faculty.
Levels of difficulty increase through the regional and sectional meets, building toward the challenging state finals, which take place on the campus of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.