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BHS Academic Decathlon team wins state

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  • The Academic Decathlon are, from left (Back Row) William “Ozzie” Knowles, Laurel Morsi, Megan Mize, Savannah Venegas, Riley Longobardi, and Coach Joe Cortez,; (Front Row) Coach Dan Zavorka, Chandler Knowles, Christopher Pallesen, Emily Ramos, and Kari
    The Academic Decathlon are, from left (Back Row) William “Ozzie” Knowles, Laurel Morsi, Megan Mize, Savannah Venegas, Riley Longobardi, and Coach Joe Cortez,; (Front Row) Coach Dan Zavorka, Chandler Knowles, Christopher Pallesen, Emily Ramos, and Kari

The Bandera High School (BHS) Academic Decathlon Team brought home another state win to Bandera. This win is Bandera’s fourth consecutive Texas Small School championship. In the past six years, Bandera teams have won six championship titles - five at the state level and one at the national level.

BHS Principal Dr. Kenneth Vogel remarked, “The BHS Academic Decathlon Team, as well as the overall program, led by the experienced and talented Coach Dan Zavorka is perhaps one of the most outstanding academic programs that I have ever seen in my career.”

Academic Decathlon is an academic competition where nine students across four grades write essays, answer interview questions, make presentations and take a battery of academic tests focused on a single topic.

This year’s topic was water resource management. The students are separated into subgroups of three based on their grade point average. Those groups are Varsity, Scholastic, and Honors.

The students on this year’s team are Megan Mize, Savannah Venegas, William “Ozzie” Knowles, Laurel Morsi, Emily Ramos, Karina Garcia, Chandler Knowles, Christopher Pallesen and Riley Longobardi. The team is coached by Dan Zavorka and Joe Cortez.

In addition to the group win, students brought home medals for their individual performance across the competition. Thirty-two individual honors were earned along with $16,500 in scholarship money.

Individual medal recognition is as follows: Savannah Venegas – Gold in Speech and Bronze in Literature; William “Ozzie” Knowles – Gold in Science, Silver in Music, and Bronze in Mathematics; Laurel Morsi – Gold in Interview (perfect score) and Silver in Mathematics; Emily Ramos – Bronze in Literature, Bronze in Mathematics, and Bronze in Music; Christopher Pallesen – Silver in Mathematics, Silver in Essay, Silver in Speech, and Bronze in Economics; Riley Longobardi – Gold in Economics, Silver in Science, Silver in Social Science, Silver in Music, and Bronze in Art; and Chandler Knowles – Gold in Science, Gold in Art, Gold in Essay; Silver in Social Science, Silver in Economics, Silver in Literature, Bronze in Mathematics, Bronze in Music, and Bronze in Interview.

Five Bandera students earned overall awards in the small school division.

Chandler Knowles won First Overall in Varsity. Riley Longobardi tied with Christopher Pallesen for Third Overall in Varsity. Laurel Morsi won Fifth Overall in Scholastic. William Knowles won Fourth Overall in Honors.

The Bandera team also won the Super Quiz competition, a variation on a "college bowl" type event.

“I am very proud of the team. They are a very important group and coming in first in the state is just amazing. They are creating a legacy of high performance in this difficult academic competition,” said Superintendent Gary Bitzkie.

The Bandera team will move on to national competition. This year the competition will be held virtually on April 21- 23. Top winning teams from each state and outside the US will compete for the chance to earn the opportunity to have the national championship bragging rights.