MARION, Ind. – On Saturday, May 6, a small group of Marion High School students competed in the state math Academic Super Bowl competition at Purdue University after achieving a perfect score in area competition.
The Academic Super Bowl is a competitive scholastic contest where up to five students answer 25 questions on a variety of topics within their subject of focus. It is put on by the Indiana Association of School Principals. According to IASP, this year, 4,980 students from 275 schools participated in this year’s competition.
The divisions covered in the competition vary vastly from math to fine arts. In order to reach state competition, the team must have one of the top five scores across all Indiana districts.
This year, Marion High School had two qualifying teams. Both the math and science team qualified for the final round of competition. Going into state competition, the math team was the highest scoring team in the state with a perfect score.
“Less than 10% of the schools make it to state,” Doug Porter, math team coach, said. “Anytime we can get one team to state, that’s quite an accomplishment.”
Unfortunately, Marion’s academic teams were unable to clinch the state title. Both the math and science team came in third place.
“I know the boys are disappointed that we didn’t bring home the school’s first academic state title, but the questions were much more difficult than they were at the Area and Invitational competitions.” Porter said.
Truman Bennet, the captain of the academic math team, is a senior this year. Saturday’s competition was his last event with this team.
“The experience was very exciting but a little bittersweet since it was our last year.” Bennet said. “This program has just been so much fun and has had a lasting impression that I will remember forever”
In preparation for state competition, the team met weekly to prepare. Additionally, the students participated in studies outside of class and other math competitions. Porter said the students put in many hours to perform at such a high level.
Porter has coached the team for 22 years and seen his team go to the state competition five times throughout the course of his involvement. He attributes some of the academic team’s success on the high standard of education Marion offers students.
“The education and the curriculum here is some of the best in the state in terms of the number of upper level classes we offer,” Porter said.
Micah Hoeksema, a member of both the math and science teams, competed in both state contests. Throughout his time at Marion, he has taken advantage various college credit classes there are available.
“Throughout all four years of high school, Marion has provided me with extremely challenging courses,” Hoeksema said. “My teachers have stressed the importance of studying and working hard outside of the class, as well as within the classroom.”
With the Academic Super Bowl behind them, the team’s seniors shift their focus towards their collegiate careers.
Hoeksema has recently been named 2017 Indiana Academic All-Star, an honor extended to only 40 high school seniors as well as recipient of the Lilly Scholarship.
His teammate, Bennet, has also received recognition on his high academic performance. Bennet received a perfect score on his AP Calculus BC exam. He was one of 18 people to obtain this score.
Nicholas Spitzer, the final senior represented on the team, was awarded a $4,000 scholarship from Mu Alpha Theta, the National High School Mathematics Honor Society.
“All three (seniors) have such great things in their future,” Porter said.