#1StudentNWI: Boone Grove High School’s Academic Team makes smart look good

#1StudentNWI: Boone Grove High School’s Academic Team makes smart look good

What’s recently happened?

Boone Grove High School’s (BGHS) Academic Teams recently participated in the area competition on Tuesday, April 16. This was the third competition, following the ones at Purdue University Northwest and Washington Township High School. 

This most recent competition, hosted at Wheeler High School, began around 4:30 p.m., and the teams departed at 8 p.m.

The results of this competition determine who moves on to the State level. Teams are ranked not only within their own classes but also based on their overall score statewide. 

English, science, and social studies all placed first at the area competition; math placed second, and fine arts received third. 

Results for whether or not teams qualified for state will be released at a later time. Members are anxious but ultimately content with their season. 

“Being on the Math Academic Team was an incredible experience. I’m sad it’s over, and I’m going to miss my teammates, but I’m glad I made some fun memories,” said Senior Aiden Pfeifer, a two-year member of the Math Academic Team. 

What’s coming up?

BGHS Academic Super Bowl teams have been diligently preparing since they received their material. Their final competition, State Finals, is fast approaching. 

The Academic Team is composed of five different categories: social studies, fine arts, science, English, and math. 

Each team has three to four members who answer 25 questions about their respective subject. This year’s theme is The End of the Second Millennium: The 1980s and 1990s. 

Some teams at Boone may be competing at State on May 4. Since this is the biggest competition of the four, it’s going to be held at Purdue University West Lafayette. 

Boone has a history of taking teams to state, and we’re optimistic that whoever competes returns victorious. 

“I’m thrilled to see how things go. It’s my senior year, so I’m hopeful we’ll win somewhere,” said Lea Nikolov, a member of the Fine Arts team. 

Staff spotlight

Katelyn Sarnowski has been a mathematics teacher and Math Academic Team coach at Boone for the last 13 years and the head coach of the Academic Super Bowl for 10 of them. 

She teaches mainly junior and senior courses such as algebra two, statistics, dual credit precalculus, calculus, finite, and trigonometry. 

Sarnowski has always had a passion for math, but she didn’t decide on becoming a teacher until later on. 

“After looking into some different fields, I realized that teaching allowed me to share my love of math with others,” said Sarnowski.

Sarnowski finds what she does to be extremely rewarding, as math tends to hold a bad reputation, particularly at the high school level. 

“Any time I can get a student to think a math problem is actually cool or, better yet, beautiful, it feels pretty great,” said Sarnowski. 

Her favorite part about the academic teams is watching all five groups put in the effort and dedication to win. 

“To see all of their preparation pay off when they go up against other schools is incredible. Just looking at this particular 2024 season, the academic teams have won overall champions at the Porter County competition and the Porter County Conference competition,” said Sarnowksi. 

During her free time, Sarnowski enjoys family outings to zoos and reading. After the school day ends, she transitions from teaching to caring for her children.  

“Outside of work, I spend most of my time running around with my kids, Oliver, 7 years old, and Maddie, 4 years old, to all of their after-school extracurricular activities,” said Sarnowski. 

Looking towards the future, Sarnowski hopes for success in any discipline Boone qualifies for at the State level.

Student spotlight

Muhammad Shaaban, a senior at BHS, has devoted his time to band, STEM Club, robotics, the tech department of theater, and academics.

“I’m tied for third in my class, and I’ve done my best to uphold that despite a hectic schedule,” said Shaaban. 

One recent activity that’s taken precedence over his time is the Academic Team. He was asked to join the science team his sophomore year.

“I retained my position throughout my junior and senior years, even after the wonderful Ms. McGinley took the reins. I was invited onto the math team last year, and I’ve been active since,” said Shaaban.

Not only is he an active member, but he also serves as captain of both teams. Along with qualifying for interdisciplinary at the state level last year, his favorite accomplishment is the position he holds. 

“All of our members are beyond talented, and it’s an honor to be considered worthy of leading,” said Shaaban.

With all this responsibility, Shaaban has had to learn to manage his time, a task that hasn’t been easy. Factors like knowing when to work and when to rest, selecting the best methods to retain information, and trying to be a reliable member all went into overcoming this obstacle. 

Outside of school, Shaaban engages in narrative writing, web video production, short film animation, and listening to or playing music as an alto saxophonist. Most recently, Shaaban has been immersing himself in the career and history of Umm Kulthum, a contemporary Arab musician.

“I certainly have some underlying hedonistic motivators in my pursuit of knowledge—as I do find learning new things to be enjoyable—but at the same time, I believe in education as a moral above all others,” said Shaaban.

Next year, Shaaban plans to study computer engineering at Purdue University West Lafayette, though he admits he’s not the type of person to have a detailed five-year plan.

“I have a very limited scope of what comes next after that. We’ll see what the future brings,” said Shaaban.

For the remainder of his senior year, Shaaban’s main goal is to leave with absolutely no regrets. 

“I want to earnestly connect with all of the people I’ve spent the last nearly decade of my life living everyday life with, many of whom I won’t see again. I want to end on a good note with as much of my graduating class as possible,” said Shaaban.