Madison Students Prepare for Decathlon

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They have built a reputation for success, and this year is no different. The Madison Academic Decathlon team is state champions, and members are now preparing for national competition for the eighth straight year. The Madison A.D. team is more than just 11 students memorizing facts, preparing speeches and lugging around binders with endless facts. They are a family. A family with different strengths and grade levels. Senior Evan Gray is a third year competitor and a C-average student. “It really requires the whole team to put forth a good effort because you can’t just have the nine smartest people in the whole school compete,” said Gray. “You have to work together and push each other to get better.” Gray said he got that push after years of hiding in the shadows of his older siblings’ success. “Being the youngest you kind of get the short end of the straw, I guess. So seeing their success kind of put me down,” said Gray. “A.D. kind of showed me that I can succeed, if I put in the effort and prepare for things.” Brennon Dempsey, also a C-student, says before A.D., he slept in class and often shied away from social interaction. Now, it is a different story. “Not only has it prepared me to do better in school, it’s prepared me for life,” said Dempsey. “It’s given me public speaking abilities, the ability to not be afraid to talk to new people. It’s been a great thing for me to do better in school.” Coach Don Roe has encouraged both students’ transformation over the past three years. “If the focus of this competition was just to try to improve their scores, then it really wouldn’t have the impact that it does,” said Roe. “But the main principle behind what we do is to try to improve their lives.” With the skills that they’ve developed and the support they’ve received, both Gray and Dempsey say they’re ready for the national level. “I don’t really feel the pressure,” said Dempsey. “But I know that my whole city’s backing me when we go to Charlotte . I know that they’re supporting me and I don’t want to let them down.” The A.D. team has won the national title three times and will compete for their fourth championship in Charlotte, NC April 28 and 29.

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