Sometimes peer pressure can be beneficial. Just ask Wilmette resident and senior Ayanna Schubert, who is now in her fourth year of competing in the Academic Challenge, the competition formerly known as Worldwide Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE).
“I got involved in the competition my freshman year, as I knew a handful of my friends were joining,” says Schubert. “I knew I would regret not being part of an experience where we got to test our intellectual mettle against peers and even ourselves.”
On February 7, she and fellow students from Regina Dominican High School (RDHS) in Wilmette claimed multiple victories in their Division at the Regionals of this year’s Academic Challenge.
The event, held at Oakton Community College, tested each student in two subjects among the following categories: biology, chemistry, English, mathematics, and physics. Awards honored the top individual scorers as well as the top scoring team in each Division.
Regina Dominican ranked as follows:
1st Place Team: RDHS
*Schools with a student body of 300 students or fewer
1st place: Leia Spaniak ’21
3rd place: Maura Heneghan ’21
1st place: Zoey Zhao ’21
2nd place: Anne Berg ’21 & Kathleen Rabbitt ’20(tie)
3rd place: Sofia Rana ’21
1st place: Maura Heneghan ’21 (tie w/ CHA student)
3rd place: Ayanna Schubert ’20(tie w/ CHA student)
1st place: Ying Zhou ’20
2nd place: Ayanna Schubert ’20 (tie w/ CHA)
3rd place: Amanda Deja ’20 & Belinda Xing ’21(tie)
1st place: Riley McInerney ’20
2nd place: Ying Zhou ’20
3rd place: Amanda Deja ’20
“The most exciting aspect of competing in Academic Challenge is most definitely competition days,” says Schubert. “I love being there with my friends and coaches, and being able to finally put into practice what we’ve been working on for months. The feeling of knowing that the culmination of all your hard work is about to pay off is one of the best feelings you can have; it feels like you’ve really accomplished something.”
Junior Sofia Rana of Lincolnwood, who placed third in chemistry, prepped through weekly practices with teachers and coaches, and also dedicated time outside of school to do independent research and take practice tests online. But the most satisfying part of the challenge is the emotional journey.
“The most exciting part was heading to the competition venue with my fellow teammates and hearing their words of encouragement,” says Rana. “I also really appreciated how supportive we all are during the awards ceremony as well and how much we cheered for each other. The Regina contingency was a solid, prepared, and bonded team.”
“Our students have been preparing for this competition since the beginning of the school year,” said RDHS Principal Dr. Kassie Porreca. “Each week during lunch they have been practicing with their subject area coaches and teachers—and they will continue to as the competition progresses. We could not be more proud of these students!”
The top two teams in each Division now advance to Sectionals on March 13 at Vernon Hills High School; those victors then compete in the State event on April 20 at Eastern Illinois University