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Students enjoy competing at elementary UIL A+ Academics district meet

Elementary UIL A+ Academics Competition Results

Students enjoy competing at elementary UIL A+ Academics district meet

Students enjoy competing at elementary UIL A+ Academics district meet

More than 450 Waco ISD students from all 15 elementary schools participated in the district’s 2019 UIL
(University Interscholastic League) A+ Academics meet which was held on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, at University High School. These dedicated students in grades 2 through 5 got out of bed early on a Saturday morning and sacrificed an entire day to participate in the friendly districtwide rivalry that included both individual and team contests.

The same UIL competition was held for middle school students the following weekend, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2109, at University High School, where all five Waco ISD middle schools were well represented. According to the UIL website, more than 300 districts host UIL A+ Academic meets each year with approximately 3,000 Texas schools participating.

The large turnout of students at these academic contests demonstrates the demand for such events and at the same time serves as a barometer for their enthusiasm and passion. One could argue that the high turnout of students is directly proportionate to their enjoyment of academic competitions.

Throughout their education, students compete on many levels and in a variety of subjects. The most obvious competitions begin in middle school as students take an interest in extracurricular activities like sports, band, orchestra, choir, art, debate, mock trial and the like. There are also subject-specific academic competitions like history fair, science fair, SkillsUSA and robotics competitions for students in middle and high school. In elementary school there are fewer opportunities to compete in a formal setting beyond the occasional spelling bee.

The UIL A+ Academics program offers Waco ISD students the opportunity to participate in challenging academic events through a structured, competitive environment. The UIL program, which dates back to 1913, includes 20 different competitive events for students in grades 2 through 8. These events complement and expand upon classroom curriculum by helping students learn specific subject knowledge and develop skills that are valuable in many disciplines.

The academic events are widely varied so that most students are able to find a topic of interest or one that further develops a unique talent or skill set. Quite often, students discover new interests as they compete against their grade-level peers. Some of the competitive events offered include art, chess, writing, speaking, mathematics, science, music memory, listening, reading and storytelling, just to name a few. Waco ISD offers all of the UIL events except modern oratory.

Academic competitions provide students with opportunities for development and enrichment. As students become interested and engaged in their subject through competition, they gain personal and intrinsic motivation for learning. They also enjoy winning the colorful ribbons and medals as a result of their hard work.

Many teachers and administrators see the value in academic competitions and many even volunteer to help with these events, said Larry Carpenter, Waco ISD Director of Fine Arts Fine.

The district’s fine arts department hosts the UIL Academic A+ events and Carpenter serves as the district coordinator for all grade levels.

Each school has at least one volunteer UIL Coordinator who reports directly to Carpenter.

“Schools determine how much time will be spent on preparation for each contest they enter,” Carpenter said.

As the contest day approaches, Carpenter said he asks each school to run one event and assist with a second event.

“That allows us to divide the load of proctoring the contest, scoring the papers, and preparing all the award material,” Carpenter explained.

Carpenter has also built a measure of accountability into the job descriptions of the district’s fine arts specialists.

“At minimum, each campus with a music and/or art specialist must enter at least one team in the correlated event, either music memory or art smart,” he said. “That is an expectation of the job I have for all elementary specialists in fine arts.”

At the end of the day, students in the top six places in each event are awarded ribbons. Additionally, the district championship and the top six schools are announced and celebrated. These school awards are determined by the total number of points earned by individual and team scores.

Since the district contest is a culminating event, students and schools do not advance to further competition. However, the intrinsic reward that comes from gaining new knowledge, competing with peers from other schools, winning medals and ribbons, and earning “bragging rights” is really all that matters.

 


Congratulations to the districtwide campus winners:

Overall top six schools:

1st Hillcrest Professional Development School

2nd Mountainview Elementary

3rd Provident Heights Elementary

4th Lake Air Montessori Magnet School

5th Alta Vista Elementary

6th Cedar Ridge Elementary

 

A list of winners by grade level and event category is available here.