The United States Academic Decathlon, won for the third time in recent years by Wilmot High School, is not simply about demonstrating how smart students are.
“It’s about daring to push your limits, to master college-level material and to practice skills, like public speaking, that might be wholly new to you,” writes Dr. Les Martisko, administrator of the Academic Decathlon. “ It’s about the people you’ll meet along the way — the coaches, who will mentor you; the competitors, who will challenge you, the the teammates who will become your lifelong friends.
“ ... You should join the Academic Decathlon not because (the) goal will be easy to achieve, but because it will be hard. “
With that, you get a sense of what Wilmot has accomplished, returning to first place in Division 2 at the national championships in Minnesota last weekend, besting teams from across the United States, China and the United Kingdom.
It was a familiar achievement for Wilmot, coached by Don Serkowski, who has led this distinguished program for 17 years. Wilmot has been state champion for six years running.
“It is the premier academic competition in the United States,” Serkowski said Monday while getting congratulations during the school day. “it’s not just tests, it’s harder than college. They’re learning so much.”
Wilmot’s team of nine students trains for 11 months. It’s hard work, Serkowski tells them from the start. But he said the students rise to the challenge, compete and hang out with each other while working toward a lofty goal.
“I get to see different kids see their potential,” the coach said. “Now we have expectations, we try to do better.”
The competition was close this year, but Wilmot made it happen with junior Marcus Wolff, sophomore Ian McCutchan and senior Austin Adam earning scholarships for their high scores.
“It’s an honor to not only represent our school, but also the entire state at the event,” Serkowski said over the weekend. “Wisconsin has had a long tradition of doing well at nationals. Truthfully, it’s very humbling to live up to that standard.”
Serkowski has high hopes for next year, but we all should take a moment and recognize Wilmot’s achievement this year bringing Kenosha County pride. Congratulations to the United States Academic Decathlon champs.