Brainy Payson Students Set Records In Competition

Academic Decathlon Team named ‘Rookies of the Year’


For the first time in Payson High School (PHS) history, students set records in a completely academic competition.

In its rookie year of competition, the (PHS) Academic Decathlon (AcaDec) Team scored higher than four other first-time teams in regional competition. Sixteen out of 21 regional teams competed at St. Johns High School.

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the AcaDec Team returned home from the 28th annual Region 1 Academic Decathlon with five medals, a fourth-place tie in the Superquiz Relay, and the distinction of being named Rookie Team of the Year.

“I heard from other coaches that a rookie team has never medaled before,” said Kristi Ford AcaDec adviser.

Vice Principal Anna Van Zile, who was instrumental in getting AcaDec to PHS said, “This young team has a shining future ahead of it as it has no seniors to lose and more to gain in its zero hour slot,” she said, “This is the handful of kids that shows up to class by 7:20 every morning, while their peers are just reaching the breakfast table. Congratulations, AcaDec!”

Founded in 1968 by a California superintendent, AcaDec was created for students to exhibit their knowledge in 10 different academic areas through competition. However, unlike other events that only allow the best and brightest to compete, AcaDec has a team comprised of students from three levels of grade point averages. Six member teams are made up of two “A” (honor), two “B” (scholastic), and two “C” (varsity) students. Students compete against others at their own level, but all answer the same questions, according to the history from the United States Academic Decathlon Web site.

The PHS team competed against schools that included Scottsdale Christian and Arizona School for the Arts and Alchesay High School, former PHS principal Roy Sandoval’s current school.

The team consists of the following students: Trenton Hodges (Grade 11), Jennifer Bailey (Grade 10), Trey Butler (Grade 10), Jacob Chamberlain (Grade 10), Rishele Shoultz (Grade 10), Jared Varner (Grade 10) Brooke Kubby (Grade 9), and Ryland Wala (Grade 9).

Individual medals went to students who earned the most points in each of nine categories: speech, interview, essay, music, history, science, math, language arts, economics, and art.

Ryland Wala won a silver for history, Jennifer Bailey won bronze for both art and music, Rishele Shoults, bronze for math, and Trenton Hodges silver for math.

Freshman Brooke Kubby went up against mostly seniors and had the most overall points out of her team members.

For the team to receive a fourth-place tie in the Superquiz Relay is noteworthy because every student on the team participates. Superquiz works similarly to a game show with one student from each school getting up on stage to compete against one student from each of the other schools at each competition level, honor, scholastic and varsity.

“We beat out several teams who made it to state,” said Ford. “If we had received just one more point, we would have qualified for state competition.”


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