P. O. BOX 2120
January 9, 1998


TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: The United States Academic Decathlon (USAD)

     This memo is to share  with you information regarding a
  successful national competitive academic program that now is
  available for Virginia students.

     The Academic Decathlon, which operates in 38 states
  with 35,000 student participants, is a ten-event scholastic
  competition for teams of high school students.  Each high
  school enters a team of nine students, including three "A"
  or honor students, three "B" or scholastic students, and
  three "C" or varsity students.  Each participant competes in
  all ten events, language and literature, mathematics,
  science, social studies, music, art, interview, essay,
  speech, and the Super Quiz.  Participants are interviewed,
  and also are required to give a prepared speech, write an
  essay, participate in a team event in front of an audience
  (the Super Quiz), and take six written tests.

     Competitions are held at the national, state, regional,
  and local levels, although regional and local competitions
  are optional within a state.  As the number of participating
  schools in Virginia increases, regional and local
  competition will be implemented.  Local and regional
  competitions, if held, may be as early as November or as
  late as February.  The winning teams at each level advance
  to the next level.  State finals are generally held each
  year in February or March and the National Finals are held
  in April.  Each state's Academic Decathlon championship team
  is invited to participate in the National Finals, hosted by
  a different state each year.  More than 300 volunteers are
  involved in the national competition as judges and proctors,
  and personnel of many of the USAD sponsoring organizations
  are involved in a volunteer role.  President Bush and
  President Clinton have welcomed the winning teams to the
  White House Rose Garden.

     At the National Finals both individual and team winners
  are recognized.  Regional trophies also are awarded at the
  national competition.  The very broad base of awards allows
  for greater recognition of academic accomplishment by   
  individuals and teams.  Recognition for state, regional, and
  local competitions generally follows the national pattern,
  but may differ from it in some ways.

     The USAD encourages each state to conduct an Academic
  Decathlon program with appropriate levels of competition. 
  In most schools, tryouts for team positions occur in the
  spring or in the fall after summer study sessions.  To
  participate, a high school must notify the state Academic
  Decathlon organization of its intent to participate,
  purchase study materials from the USAD, identify a team of
  nine students, and appoint a coach or coaches.  Also, a fee
  must be paid to the state organization.

     Virginia conducted its first state competition in
  February of 1997 and the second competition will be held on
  February 21, 1998, at the University of Virginia.  For more
  information, contact the Virginia state director, Claude
  Sandy, at 1666 Franklin Drive, Charlottesville, Virginia
  22911, phone (804) 296-8737, or the assistant state
  director, Kevin O'Donnell, at 4500 Hickory Hill Road, Kent's
  Store, Virginia 23084, phone (804) 457-9444.