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Chris Zhou, Managing Editor

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Students from KJHS’ Science Olympiad Varsity Team recently attended their state contest on April 29. The competition was held at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, as it was last year, and started at 7:00 A.M. The day did not entertain good weather, with on and off rain and ferocious winds casting a gloomy pallor over the event.

Before state ever happened, months were spent preparing for the competition. From assembling bottle rockets to crafting elaborate Rube-Goldberg machines to hours spent hunched over textbooks, studiously taking notes, students were up to their waists in work to be done. The team had qualified from the previous regional competition, where Kennedy placed third. In the practices leading up to the tournament, there was a palpable sense of apprehension, but an equal sense of anticipation.

As the event was to be held in Urbana Champaign, which is a nearly three hour drive from Naperville, many students traveled the night before and had booked a hotel. Others drove during the night and had arrived on the campus early in the morning. After a quick breakfast, the students convened in Room 123 of the English Building to receive their wristbands. The wristbands were necessary to participate, as they served as some form of identification. A couple students left immediately after checking in, as they had events that took place earlier, or had to go impound their engineering designs.

Throughout the day, students entered and left their homeroom on a more or less regular basis, either having to go to one of their events, watch an event, or simply to get lunch. While in the room, they relaxed, playing video games or cards and conversing with their fellow teammates.

Once they got outside to head to an event, they were either faced with a gleaming sun or a vortex of rain. More often than not, it was the latter. Upon arriving at where their event was to be held, they would have to wait until the proctor would let them in. In some cases, they got there too early and had to wait for around 30 minutes before entering. But once they did, the atmosphere of the room shifted dramatically. One could see exactly who their competitors were, and see how serious of a threat they might pose. For the next hour, all that could be heard is the flurried conversation between the teams, attempting to provide the best possible answers in the shortest amount of time. When the test ended, all sighed in relief and handed in their tests. This was to happen more than twenty times over the day.

At the end of the competition period, where all the scores were accounted for and tallied, the students were ushered into the gymnasium for an awards ceremony. The stands were filled with cheering middle schoolers along with their coaches, all hoping to take home a victory. The Kennedy team settled down in the middle of the bleaches in three rows, and chattered nervously about how everyone did.

The ceremony started with an introduction of all the schools that were participating all day, a ritual that was heartily received by some, and generally ignored by most. The majority of people in the stands were waiting for the actual ceremony to begin, where the medals were to be handed out and their work validated. The slideshow of schools seemed to drag on, but it eventually ended with a message of “Congratulations to all who participated this year!” The announcer stepped on stage and began reading off the victors of each of the individual events, along with the top ranked schools. This year, Kennedy’s team walked away halfheartedly with one individual 5th place medal, and an overall ranking of 10th place in the state, a far cry from last year’s 5th place.

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The student news site of Kennedy Jr. High School
SciOly!