The pentathlon has only five events compared to the decathlon’s ten, but is still quite the challenge for any middle school student. It consists of five portions: a literature portion where the students read a novel and analyze it, a social science portion made up of U.S. History criteria, a math portion, a science portion, and finally a essay portion. Students are graded on their ability to effectively and correctly perform each of the portions and “The top scoring teams and individual students are awarded medals and plaques for highest scores.”
This program, rigorous and demanding was created at Mesa for its benefits for not only a few straight-A students, but any student meeting the criteria set up by the Orange County Department of Education. The criterion for being a participant in the Pentathlon is that 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 2.0-2.99, 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 3.0-3.74, and 1/3 of the team must be comprised by students with an academic GPA between 3.75-4.0.
Not only does it reward academic excellence, but it also benefits the participants later in their high school careers and even college. Mr. Olier, a teacher instrumental in the building of the program states “Although colleges do mostly look at the high school program [Academic Decathlon] it is definitely a benefit to say that the student has been doing it since 8th grade and because they start in eighth grade, by the time they get to high school they’ll be much more experienced and better at it, making them place higher.”
Placing high in an Academic Decathlon is a great accolade for a student to have on their college applications, and the skills and experience gained from it could prove to be beneficial to those who participate. All these great benefits can and will begin with this new Academic Pentathlon, started by Mesa teachers, for Mesa students.