PORTLAND — Sophie Salomon gets more out of the Academic Decathlon than an immersion in books.

“It helps you learn stuff, but it’s more than that,” the Portland High School junior said. “It teaches you how to compete. You learn how to take tests, how to be interviewed and how to sit up in front of a whole bunch of people and maybe do something you don’t want to do, but do it well.”

For Salomon, that sitting up in front of people and doing something you don’t want to do came last on Saturday, in the final event of the Maine Academic Decathlon championship. After a day of test-taking, essay-writing, speechmaking and interviews at Deering High School, the Super Quiz rolled around.

The students answered 10 multiple choice questions, with only a few seconds to answer each one. For example, the teams were asked when the Ottoman Empire became an economic colony of England (the answer, of course, was the 1840s).

Salomon said she didn’t like the idea of everyone seeing how she was doing — after the competitors were told the correct answers, those who got it right held their hands up, generating cheers or groans from other team members, parents and others in the bleachers of Deering’s gymnasium.

Salomon, who joined Portland High School’s team this year after a few friends recruited her, said her discomfort may have gotten the better of her, because she only got three of her 10 questions right. However, she noted that she got 905 out of a possible 1,000 points for public speaking on her topics — competitive sailing as a way of building integrity and the ways social media are allowing cyber-bullying to flourish.

The state has held Academic Decathlon championships since 1985. Scarborough, which won this year, has a dynasty. It’s lost only four times in 27 years, each time to Monmouth Academy.

Shane Davis, a Scarborough High Latin teacher and coach of the team, said the school’s teams do well because the students thrive on the competition. He noted that students get 700 pages of reading for the decathlon championship. This year, the topic was empires.

“I say, ‘I know you have course work, but I’m going to give you a supplemental curriculum,’ ” Davis said. “The kids love the challenge.”

Davis stages mock competitions, providing tests on economics, art, language and literature, mathematics, science and music. He also stages a simulated Super Quiz and puts together regular PowerPoint presentations to drive home the key points of the reading.

He said many of his students who have gone on to college said the Academic Decathlon helped them tackle that challenge more easily.

The preparation paid off again as Scarborough swept to its eighth consecutive win; but then, it had Sue Rundell, who was the team’s and the tournament’s top scorer, capping it with a perfect 10-for-10 performance in the Super Quiz.

Rundell went home Saturday wearing 10 individual medals, all of them gold.

Scarborough now will go to the national championship, to be held in late April in Albuquerque, N.M.

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