JHS Academic Decathlon finishes third overall, racks up medals


The Johnston High School Academic Decathlon team placed third in this weekend’s competition at the Community College of Rhode Island, earning nearly two-dozen medals in its march to the podium.

Coach and business teacher Debra Smyth said pending a check of her files, she believes the team set a record in medals earned.

“They work hard all year,” Smyth said during an interview at the high school on Monday. “This is the culmination of a school trip to Bodyworks in Boston, because it was about health and wellness. We always try to plan a trip that will benefit the studying, so Bodyworks was awesome. It was all about health and the body, so they did really, really well. A lot of the kids will focus on an area that they love.”

Junior and next year’s co-captain Audry Mahoney finished fifth overall in the Honor category, earning golds in honor social science and a silver medal in honor science. Allison Kane finished fifth overall as well in the Scholastic region, powered by a bronze in scholastic math and scholastic literature.

Smyth said, though, that she was especially impressed with Abigail Bartlett’s performance. This was Bartlett’s first year on the squad, and she earned third place overall in the Varsity category. She took home golds in varsity math, essay and event interview, as well as a silver in varsity science and varsity bronze in music.

“Abby was a new person. She won three golds, she had the most medals. This was her first year,” Smyth said. “They just come together, they’re a great group of kids. Every year it just seems to get better. I don’t know how or why, but it just does. They’re involved with other stuff but they make it, and they study at home if they can’t make a meeting, because it’s hard to restrict them and say, ‘No, you have to come to every single meeting. You can’t do track, you can’t do [this].’”

Bartlett wasn’t the only newcomer to have success at the Decathlon. Isabella Ribezzo and Christopher LaPlante – both first-year participants – were awarded gold and silver medals, respectively, in varsity music. Glorianna Crichlow, another first-time player, won a gold medal in honor science.

“It’s always just who you have, and we had a lot of first-timers win medals,” Smyth said. “Sophomores that we never had that joined Decathlon this year, and I think at least four or five of them got medals, which was amazing. It really was. They killed it … I just get chills when I think about it, because they were so awesome.”

Other winners included Nitsa Prasith, who won silver medals in both scholastic art and varsity math. Next year’s co-captain Caleb Lee left with a bronze in scholastic economics, while Victor Fragoso earned a bronze in honor event interview.

Joyce Armstrong was one of the top performers in scholastic art, adding another silver medal to Johnston’s total, while Mackenzie Hanna grabbed gold in honor literature. Benjamin Anacilli racked up another scholastic bronze for the Panthers in literature.

“I got goosebumps,” Smyth said. “I couldn’t believe it, you know. They did really, really well.”

Smyth said the club usually meets twice a week for an hour starting after homecoming, with an all-day study session taking place in the library Friday before Decathlon.

“Everybody brings a snack or a drink and we get pizza, and we’re in there all day. We do Super Quiz questions with the A, B, C, D and they hold it up, imitate it,” Smyth said. “We go through interviews with them, give them feedback. Print out resumes, because it’s a nice show. It’s not required, but it’s very professional when they hand the person interviewing them a resume.”


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