By Conrad Dudderar
Student academic excellence was celebrated last week during the last Yukon school board meeting before spring break.
Yukon Public Schools’ Board of Education on March 6 recognized members of Yukon High School’s academic team and girls swim team for recent academic accomplishments.
YHS Principal Melissa Barlow expressed pride in the academic Quiz Bowl team’s students and coaches.
“They work tirelessly – day after day, evening after evening – working on their questions,” Barlow said. “They were recently named the 6A state academic team champions.”
YHS academic team advisor Tyler Haisten took over the program in May 2021 at Barlow’s request.
Over the past year, the team has improved from a “top 10” to “emphatically the best team in the state thanks to the commitment of these kids,” Haisten noted.
“This season’s success is simply part of the process for these kids. Each week, we practice 7 hours and 45 minutes. That is an extra day of school every week. These kids commit to becoming more cohesive as a team and to bettering their own minds. … These kids have impacted us coaches in a way that has completely inspired us.”
Haisten told YPS board meeting attendings that academic team has “completely altered” the chemistry of his brain. It’s also further solidified in him the power of education.
Last month, YHS won the 2023 National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) Oklahoma State Championship at Rose State College.
This was their fourth tournament championship of the 2022-23 school year in just five attempts. As the top-ranked team in the region, they will compete right after graduation in May at the national championship in Atlanta, Ga.
Two Yukon teams were among 18 competing in the large schools’ division at the tournament, sponsored by the Oklahoma Association for Academic Competition.
No student standing beside advisor Haisten at the March 6th YPS board meeting was on the YHS academic team when the 2021-22 season began.
Many joined after an initial recruitment push last year, while others are in their first year competing in Quiz Bowl.
Quiz Bowl is a team sport that pits four students from one school against four students from a rival school.
Questions are curated to represent every possible category of academia ranging from history, science, literature, and fine arts to pop culture, religion and current events.
“Each match features 20 toss-up questions, which are a race to the buzzer for all eight involved players,” Haisten explained.
“If an individual on a team wins the buzzer race and correctly answers the questions, that team will get three additional questions where they will be able to deliberate for five seconds and quickly pluck from their wide breadth of knowledge.”
YPS Board of Education President Leonard Wells commended these academic team members on their success.
“We’ve got some of the smartest kids in the state; that’s for sure,” Wells said. “Their accomplishment was fantastic.”
GIRL SWIMMERS QUITE SMART
As if that wasn’t enough, Yukon’s girls swim team recently earned the 2023 state academic title.
“I demanded a lot in the pool, but this is all them,” YHS girls swim coach Erin Hall said of her repeat academic champions. “I am extremely proud of these 10 ladies. We had a handful of 4.0’s and then a couple just under.
“It averaged to a 3.9, which is a great feat.”
Yukon’s school board president offered kudos to this smart group of girl swimmers.
“Keep winning that award, it’s great,” Wells said. “Sometimes, kids have to work hard just so they can be included in some of the extracurricular activities.
“These kids are just the best as far as students.”