Academic Triathlon teams do well as season gets underway

By : 
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY
CHATFIELD NEWS

Jodie Daniels’s and Jessica Hanson’s students are getting shiny.

“We have so many kids who are able to shine through AT. They are so creative and knowledgeable and can really showcase their abilities through this competition,” stated Daniels, speaking of the students she and Hanson advise in Academic Triathlon (AT), a meeting of talented students who compete in teams against teams from other schools in a three-part contest to challenge their creativity and critical thinking skills.

Daniels continued, “Academic Triathlon has three components — Face-off, which is trivia, Mind Sprints, which is hands-on challenges, and PARTY in a Box, or skit-based performances. All three challenges are scored, and the scores are then computed to find the overall winner for each meet. St. Charles, Lewiston-Altura, Dover-Eyota and Chatfield participate, and the first meet was held in St. Charles on Dec. 7. There were 14 teams total — seven in the Pink meet and seven in the Blue meet. We had four fifth and sixth grade Challenger teams.”

The Chatfield teams that competed are comprised of Ryan Rindles, Rebecca Copeman, Grace Finley, Julia Goldsmith, Will Boelter and alternate Hannah Tweten; Grace Boelter, Alden Pearson, Grayson Fister, Elise Moody, Hudson Lueck and alternate Cadyn Meyer; Keegan Patten, Westin Nolte, Katerina Brewer, Anna Halverson, Dani Severson and alternate Michelle Townsend; and Carly Backen, Tobin McMahon, Ella Bakken, Alaina Armstrong and Gavin Carr.

“We had one Chatfield team place second in both the Pink meet and the Blue meet, and then one of the seventh and eighth graders in the Gold meet placed first,” Daniels said. “The Blue meet second-place team was Grace Boelter, Alden Pearson, Grayson Fister, Elise Moody and Hudson Lueck, and the Pink second place team was Keegan Patten, Westin Nolte, Katerina Brewer, Anna Halverson and Dani Severson.”

Daniels shared she is especially proud of her students. “We meet every Monday after school for an hour to practice on each of the events for the meets two of the weeks out of the month. We had a short turn-around time from the time we started practice to our first meet. The sixth graders were great leaders and the fifth graders were quick learners to figure out how an Academic Triathlon meet runs,” she said.

The co-advisor elaborated that the competition brings together some of the busiest minds in the elementary and lower junior high levels and asks them to collaborate to create something or answer questions as a team.

“Sometimes the kids who are very knowledgeable in school are very independent. Academic Triathlon works on building relationships with the people on your team, as you really need to work well together,” Daniels said. “Communication is the utmost importance. Teams that communicate well tend to do better in the competitions. There are so many random trivia questions that if they didn’t know an answer, they are sure to learn something new at each meet. The collaboration and creativity are really developed throughout this competition.”

Daniels stated that she appreciates being able to coach the students. “The PARTY in a Box performances are always the most interesting to watch. They have 40 minutes to come up with an entire skit, props included. And the most rewarding part is to see the kids feel successful and work together as a team.”

She concluded, “The kids we work with here at Chatfield are among some of the best in the state. They have worked hard to get where they are at, and that is a combination of work done at home and here at school.”

The teams will also compete later this week at Dover-Eyota.