Penns Valley

On Centre | Penns Valley: Academic decathlon team returns home in triumph

The Penns Valley Area High School academic decathlon team were the winners of the the small school championship at the state championship last weekend near Erie. The nine-member team includes Samantha Bastress, Haley Brown, Harrison Burd, Dan Kozar, Ben Kupp, Josh Martin, Maria McQuaide, Jeremy Shawley and James Steffen.
The Penns Valley Area High School academic decathlon team were the winners of the the small school championship at the state championship last weekend near Erie. The nine-member team includes Samantha Bastress, Haley Brown, Harrison Burd, Dan Kozar, Ben Kupp, Josh Martin, Maria McQuaide, Jeremy Shawley and James Steffen. Photo provided

If the Penns Valley Area High School academic decathlon team didn’t already set enough records this year, the team has another thing to brag about.

The nine-member team — under advisers Sarah Farrant and Corey Zatek — came back to Penns Valley last week as small school champions after the state competition March 6-7 at Northwestern Senior High School in Albion.

The team also placed third overall, won the Super Quiz relay, took home 43 subject-area medals, had the third- and first-place scores for the entire competition, and set a Pennsylvania record for overall high score, Farrant said.

And that hashtag that’s been trending online in support of the team — #PlaqueQuest2015 — wasn’t for nothing, as they earned two plaques that weekend.

The team consists of Samantha Bastress, Haley Brown, Harrison Burd, Dan Kozar, Ben Kupp, Josh Martin, Maria McQuaide, Jeremy Shawley and James Steffen.

McQuaide, a senior, was the individual champion, while Kupp came in third place overall.

McQuaide’s 9,068 of 10,000 points broke a record dating back to 1998 — “the year she was born,” Farrant said.

During the competition, students answered 335 questions in seven subject areas, covering about 1,000 pages of material.

McQuaide answered 300 correctly, Farrant said.

“Then she averaged scores of over 930 out of 1,000 on her essay, speech, and interview,” Farrant said.

Kupp was the overall third-place decathlete at the competition, by outscoring 122 students, and bringing home medals in seven subject areas.

Kozar led his division by winning medals in nine of 10 categories. Brown and Burd won four medals. Bastress and Steffen won three medals apiece, and scored more than 900 points each on their interviews. Martin won two medals, including gold in math, and Shawley won a medal in economics.

Because of Penns Valley’s win, the team will compete in the online national competition in April.

“This was such an amazing and emotional win for Penns Valley,” Farrant said. “The students on the team dedicated hours and hours each day in preparation. We came in as serious underdogs and emerged as champions.”

North Penn High School in Landsdale will represent Pennsylvania at nationals in California.

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