J-DHS Science Olympiad Rocks!

By Griffin Johnson, Chris Wood and Ryan Pike

Editor-in-Chiefs, and Managing Editor for Writing and Reporting

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The Jamesville-DeWitt High School Science Olympiad team is at it again. On Jan. 26, the team had its first competition at Le Moyne College and placed third in the region. They placed well enough to advance to the state competition. The competition will be held March 8 and 9 at Monroe-Woodbury High School in Central Valley in Orange County in the Hudson Valley. Last year the team did the best they’ve done in years, placing 12th in the state competition, and this year they hope to improve even more and maybe even place first overall.

The students who make up the team are divided into two parts, the “studiers” and the “builders.” The studiers are responsible for dealing with the written exams, while the builders deal with engineering competitions. Most J-DHS “Olympiathletes” participate in more than just one competition. Fields the studiers compete in include Anatomy, Food Science, Forestry, Heredity and Meteorology. Competitions the builders partake in include building useful things such as a robot arm, an elastic launch glider, a mousetrap vehicle and a rotor egg drop. Builders also participate in the “Write it, do it” event, where teams have to create a list of steps to follow to make an object and then follow them to create it.

According to engineering teacher and building event adviser Larry Stroh, the team’s best testing events usually include Anatomy and Meteorology/Astronomy. The studiers prepare for their events by studying well in advance for their topics. Most of the work is done by the students, however, some science teachers are present during studying to quiz the participants. “Students have to take the initiative on their own,” said science teacher Nancy Raicht, who helps coach students for Forensics events. Science teacher Eugene Sul agrees with Mrs. Raicht. “The students must learn on their own. We’re just there to help them,” he said; “It’s really Mr. Keenan and Mr. Stroh that run the show.”

Science teacher Michael Keenan, the other adviser for J-DHS SO, guides the studying events. Mr. Stroh and Mr. Keenan work together to make sure the team is ready for competition. Mr. Keenan registers the team and sets up the trials that determine which students are placed on which team. “For many years now we’ve placed well enough in the regions to qualify to go to the state competition,” Keenan said. He feels the team will be able to build on their success from last year and do even better this year. Junior Daniel Lee, treasurer for the team, expects to have a good season. “If it goes as it has in the past, then I expect to go to states,” Lee said.

Lee’s expectation has been met. The J-DHS team placed third in regionals amongst fellow top five finishers East-Syracuse Minoa, Fayetteville-Manlius, Camden and Cicero-North Syracuse. It went “fantastic” according to junior Rahul Raina. “We have a lot of underclassmen that really stepped up,” said senior Charlie Scheftic. Despite this success, Mr. Stroh doesn’t know how the team will do at the next level. “You never know [for sure],” he explained; “There have been years we haven’t performed well at regionals and went and did amazing at states, and there have been years where we did really well in regionals and not so well at states.” The team remains optimistic, however. “We should do well at states if we apply ourselves,” said junior James Usher. “We’re gonna fight for it,” said Raina.