Cedar Rapids Junior Geniuses Set to Reign Supreme Nationally
Hoping to fare better than the other "Jayhawks" from Lawrence, Kansas, who just came in second in the March Madness basketball championship, a Cedar Rapids high school's academic decathlon team will represent Iowa among their super-smart peers nationwide.
According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, the first Iowa state academic decathlon was held in 1986 in Denison. Denison High School won the event that year and went to Nationals. After that, they took turns winning with Cedar Rapids Washington, Council Bluffs Jefferson, and Ames until 1997, when after three years as a runner-up, C.R. Jefferson began its long, victorious reign.
Since then, C.R. Jefferson has DOMINATED this competition, winning 25 of the last 26 annual outings. When you win the state title, you go on to nationals so it's been quite a run for them, to say the least. Of those 25 state victories, one led to national runner-up status. Unfortunately, for the second year in a row because of the pandemic, the kids who make it to the National Academic Decathlon will not get to make the memorable trip to Washington, D.C., and instead will participate virtually. It will take place April 21-23.
You see these events played out on goofy sitcoms like "Saved by the Bell" but these junior geniuses are the real deal, having their knowledge tested in ten categories including art, economics, essay, interviewing, language and literature, mathematics, social science, science, speech, and super quiz. The only subjects on that list I even came close to succeeding in were the essay, language, and literature, hence becoming a goofy talking radio guy who occasionally has to do some writing.
The contestants have no lower than a "C" average and spend countless hours studying and practicing. This is on top of the "regular" studying for school and practice for any other activities they might be part of.
Incidentally, Des Moines will host the 2025 National Academic Decathlon. Last year, Jefferson placed fifth at nationals. I am a proud Cedar Rapids Kennedy alum, but I'm rooting for Jefferson to continue their streak and be able to "defend" on their home state turf three years from now--unless my alma mater gets into the action!