Students begin sharpening competitive UIL academic skills


University Interscholastic League plaques represent the goal of academic competitors. Now, the school’s academic teams are gearing up for another season. Several competitors plan to attend an academic activities conference Sept. 22 at the University of Texas in Arlington to begin sharpening their skills for upcoming competitions. The journalism team earned the plaque shown here on March 28 at last spring’s district meet. “We are open to everyone,” UIL coordinator Elise Calhoun said. “However much experience or knowledge you have, it doesn’t matter, we will help you get to where you need to be.”

Ryan Stanley, Reporter

With the new school year comes renewed University Interscholastic League competitions. While practices have already begun, students can join by contacting the individual sponsors for their event. A student activities conference, which will explain each of the four competition areas and provide helpful tips, will be held on Sept. 22 at the University of Texas in Arlington

“We are open to everyone,” UIL coordinator Elise Calhoun said. “However much experience or knowledge you have, it doesn’t matter, we will help you get to where you need to be.”

UIL competitive categories cover several academic fields, including these: STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), business, speech & debate, social studies, journalism, language arts and theatre. Each category includes specific competitions.

“We have events like ready writing, social studies, current events, science, computer science, and three different math competitions,” Calhoun said. “We have things on the theatre side as well, practically every event possible.”

All events compete mainly in the spring, but students are not required to compete.

“We go to invitational competitions where we take anybody who wants to go, regardless of skill level,” Calhoun said. “When we get to district and regionals, we take our top competitors.”

Student activities coordinator Rachell Grant said UIL teams practice during ‘Eagle Time,’ as well as before and after school to avoid conflicting schedules.

“Students can be in more than one event,” Calhoun said. “We do have a conflict pattern that helps students choose their events, but there are some that overlap.”

Calhoun said UIL offers multiple benefits and is known nationwide. In addition, scholarship opportunities arise for students who make it to state.

“First of all, students get to be apart of a team,” Grant said. Secondly, she added, it allows students to build skills that provide diverse, well-rounded experiences worthy of listing on college and scholarship resumes, she said.

Senior Zane Smith has competed in UIL competitions since fourth grade and went to state for speech & debate.

“For UIL state, I competed in persuasive extemporaneous speaking,” Smith said. “It was a really cool experience to feel like you’re special and to know that there were only four people in the state that are better than I – was gratifying.”

Smith said he joined UIL because he likes to be involved, his favorite part is the team preparation.

“I like the team preparation and working together to get the facts we need,” Smith said. “It’s really fun and good team bonding.”