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Science Olympiad prepares for Regionals with a first place at the Haslett Invitational

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Pictured: Last year's Science Olympiad team

Seated together at Haslett High school in East Lansing, FHC’s Science Olympiad team anxiously waited for the awards ceremony to begin. As names were called and medals were given out, student after student rose to collect their prize.

Sophomore Tony Dimeglio recorded scores as sophomore Andy Travis and senior Francesca Duong eagerly kept track. A few minutes later, proving Tony, Andy, and Francesca’s math to be correct, FHC was announced as the first place winner of the Haslett Invitational.

“During the awards ceremony, each event, one through eight, gets medals and ribbons,” Tony said. “I was writing everything down, and I eventually figured that we got first. I calculated that we would win. When it actually happened, we were so excited and overjoyed to get another first place after our first place last year.”

Though the intense tone of competitions is not replicated during classroom practices, the constant encouragement and help from teammate to teammate brings the team closer together. The blend of thirty personalities, backgrounds, and interests creates a unique and knowledgeable team that is able to succeed.

“[The team] atmosphere is really positive, and it’s nice to learn about things that you don’t learn about at school,” Andy said. “It’s also nice because there are a ton of nice people and camaraderie. Everyone knows each other, brings their own set of skills and has a few events that they’re really good at. So when we combine together, it makes a really successful team. You get close to the people there, and you get really nice friendships.”

Since the beginning of the season, the Science Olympiad team has improved tremendously. At the beginning of the year, everything was still new, with students unsure of events and being moved around. Since committing to their event and laying the foundation, the team has become much stronger, with both better collaboration and better results.

Because of the team’s hard work and improvements, scores have been steadily rising. Compared to their earlier invitational, most competitors improved as students worked harder, teams became closer, and knowledge of subjects increased. If this path continues, the Science Olympiad team has a great chance of success for the rest of their season.

“For me, my biggest personal success was medaling at States last year,” Francesca said. “My partners and I poured a lot of hours studying and practicing, and it was really nice to see that it paid off. It was extremely rewarding when my partner and I placed fourth because we would practice almost every day and try to get better. This year, it was such an honor to place first at the invitational, and we are so excited to see what’s in store for us.”

The hours that Francesca and her team dedicate to Science Olympiad vary in purpose depending on the event. While some build intricate robotics and attempt programming, others toil over notes and study books. But when it comes down to it, the individual knowledge that each competitor needs to know is what makes the event so challenging.

“There’s such a huge amount of information that you need to know,” Tony said. “It’s hard to narrow it down to what you really need to focus on. Out of everything that I do, I spend the most time on [AP U.S. History] and on [Science Olympiad]. It takes a lot of dedication and perseverance too when you realize that you don’t know all the answers to stuff.”

On top of the remarkable amount of information to learn, ranging from minerals to microbes and mouse traps, Science Olympiad students also have pressure to perform because of the high stakes. The upcoming regional competition determines whether or not the team advances to States and, consequently, Nationals. After making it to States last year, this year’s team is committed to performing even better this year.

“The competition is very strong,” coach Kristy Butler said. “Our region has the most competitive competition in the state, and our state is one of the most competitive states at Nationals. The reality is that other schools in our region are getting better, so we have to bring our best. We still have a lot of improvement in all of our events, but the coaching team is confident that our team will put in the work to be as successful as they can be. Our team is motivated, and they have big goals to be one of the top teams in the region.”

Without a doubt, Science Olympiad is a challenge for all involved in it– students, competitors, and even teachers and coaches. But for those who have a true passion for science, the difficulty and countless hours put in become worth it when “FHC” is called up to take first place.

“Science Olympiad teaches you about collaboration and teamwork,” Francesca said. “You really have to work with your partner because you two are in this event together. You study together and create note sheets together. For the build events, a lot of them will meet together on weekends and work together to create the build. It really is a collaborative effort. Most of all, it’s fun. We do a lot of team bonding at the competitions and play a bunch of games. It shows that you can still have fun and enjoy what you’re doing.”

Though Francesca is graduating in a few months and leaving the underclassmen in her Science Olympiad family behind, the incredible knowledge she has gained from the activity will stay with her forever. Apart from expanding her boundaries and allowing her to learn about unique science, Francesca has gained perseverance, determination, and passion that will help her to succeed in future endeavors.

“I do it because I’m a nerd at heart,” Francesca said. “I love science, and I love the events that I do. But again, the people really make it worth it. I’ve made so many friends here, and they all mean a lot to me. I will definitely miss them once I graduate. You’re surrounded by like-minded people, and you are all in this together. You learn so many great skills, and all in all, it’s a really great experience.”

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Science Olympiad prepares for Regionals with a first place at the Haslett Invitational