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AcaDec Coach: Not Your Typical Teacher

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Not Your Typical Teacher

AcaDec: Art history, psychology, Spanish history and Academic Decathlon… what can’t this man do?

Aliza Patel | Features Writer
April 13, 2018

Behind every great team is a great coach. Through sleepless nights of studying the economic systems of Africa, heated sessions of planning impromptu speeches and winning third place in state, the Academic Decathlon team has yet again pulled through another year full of achievements. But the driving force behind this victorious team is their advisor, Mr. Jonathan Mitchell.

How long have you been in charge of Academic Decathlon?
Two years.

Why did you decide to coach the team?
I used to help Mr. Abraham. I would do the art for him and I really liked it. I just started helping, and then when he left, they needed someone to do it, and I became the coach.

What are some of your favorite moments or accomplishments?
The state we just came back from was really big. Third place in state was the biggest moment because it was a team victory; the whole team got recognized.

Did you take part in AcaDec as a student?
No, not when I was a student.

Do you wish you had?
I’m trying to think if I would have been good at it. I don’t know if I would have had time. They have to have time to study. I’m not sure.

Can you tell me a bit more about the recent competition?
The recent competition was in state. We worked hard all year. We got the highest score Van Nuys has ever gotten. We got a team in 3rd place which we’ve never gotten. We got a lot of medals. The thing that’s nice about medals is that kids get recognized: they get to go on stage, get their picture taken, and everyone claps for them.

What steps did you all take in preparation for competitions?
We started a long time ago. We started in May of last year, and then lots of steady studying over time. Some things they worked on that I thought were really fun were the speeches and the interviews, especially the impromptu speeches where you just make up a speech on the spot. The kids’ speeches take a lot of time because they have to write their own speech and it’s a really personal thing and it takes a long time but they’re fun to work on.

Do you have anything you would like to say to students who want to join?
If you’re interested, come by my room . We’ll try to pick a team probably in the next month. In a few weeks we’ll start looking at next year’s team. So if you’re interested, come by and we’ll have tryouts. We need all kinds of students, not just A students. We need all kinds of grades, so if you don’t have an A average, don’t think you’re not part of it.

Aliza Patel is a freshman and this is her first year in Journalism. She is a writer for the Features department.

Her favorite subject is English and although this is her first year with the paper, she is hoping to be as involved as possible. In her free time she enjoys, reading, watching Netflix, and naps.


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AcaDec Coach: Not Your Typical Teacher