Science Olympiad kicks off its season with a first place finish


As 31 Science Olympiad teams piled into the awards ceremony at Portage Northern High School, FHC’s was expecting a solid fifth place. But as the announcer began to announce the winners of the season’s first invitational competition, “Forest Hills Central” was one that was noticeably missing.

Just as the team was rendered deflated at what they thought was a vehement loss, FHC was announced as the first-place winner of the entire invitational. The entire A team of fifteen, including veteran senior Shira Schadick, erupted into cheers.

“We thought we were going to get fifth or sixth, maybe,” Shira said. “They kept calling out names, and we were thinking, ‘Oh no, we didn’t place.’ Even the coaches were shaking their heads like, ‘No, we didn’t place.’ When they called out first, I don’t think we have ever screamed so much.”

As the kickoff to the whole Science Olympiad season, the Portage Northern Invitational serves as an indicator of the strength of regional teams. This year, FHC came out strong, a bold symbol to competitors of the team’s talent.

Success at Portage Northern relied on ideals of leadership and guidance. While there are no official captains, the spirit-driven team relies on the knowledge and experience of seniors like Shira, James Xu, and Danny Richardson, to name a few.

“People like James Xu and Danny are always working hard on their events,” Shira said. “James brings a lot of enthusiasm to the team during awards, and he’s always trying to include everyone. Danny contributes through bringing home first in all his events and bringing up our score.”

As expressed by Shira, Danny’s performance consistently boosts the entire team. At this invitational, he placed in all four of his events, taking home the gold medal in three of them.

“It feels good to know that I have improved throughout my years,” Danny said. “As a freshman, I did not have as much experience, so I didn’t do as well, but it’s nice to have tangible results from my practicing. When the winner was announced, it was a real shock.”

For Danny and the rest of the team, the aforementioned practice is vital in Science Olympiad competitions. Most events, such as herpetology, geology, and forensics, are centered around an ability to design and copious amounts of studying.

In this fashion, Danny, Shira, and the remaining seniors are able to build off of their three years of previous experience to succeed in their events. Three years of Science Olympiad have supplied the seniors with the potential to excel, but also with a bittersweet sense of conclusion.

“It is kind of sad that this is the last season for me since it was a big part of my high school years,” Danny said. “I think I am more motivated, but [I’m not sure] whether that’s specifically from this being my last season or just me being more interested and experienced.”

While the seniors prepare for their last season, they also begin to pass down the knowledge they’ve gained to the underclassmen, many of whom were involved in middle school-level Science Olympiad. One such freshman, Brian Travis, was surprised by the intensity of high school competition.

“What surprised me most, since I had never gone to an invitational competition, was just the atmosphere of an invitational compared to the actual regional tournament,” Brian said. “I’m not sure how to describe it; maybe there was… a more competitive setting.”

Though being exposed to the competitive nature of Science Olympiad was slightly disheartening, Brian and his peers have several successful role models to learn from. Above all, as the underclassmen are integrated into the team, the family atmosphere of the club is further developed.

“What I’m most excited about for Science Olympiad this year is the team atmosphere and the competitions we go to,” Brian said. “Just like with any sport, being with the amazing people in the club is a blast, and the competitions are super fun.”

As the talented team looks into the future and prepares for the upcoming Invitationals, Regionals, and States, underclassmen and upperclassmen alike will channel the passion and strength extended from veteran team members.

As for the seniors, while the Science Olympiad season is just beginning, hopes and dreams have never been higher. In specific, qualifying for Nationals by placing in the Top 2 at States is a goal on everyone’s radar. And with the talent and success that the team’s first invitational has demonstrated, that goal is undoubtedly within reach.

“To make it to Nationals would be really surprising, but it would feel really good to know that all our hard work had paid off, over all these years,” Shira said. “I don’t think this team has ever gone to Nationals from Forest Hills Central, so it would be really cool to break that record.”