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My Song: From "American Idiot"s to National Champions

Joined: 8/7/2012
Posts: 1
This past spring, my school had the honor of representing Illinois in the National Academic Decathlon competition. Acadec, as the title may hint, requires focus, determination, and a lot of studying. As we flew to Albuquerque, we were running low on the first two, which made the third nearly impossible.
Upon descent, the mountains awed us: Chicago is many things, but “mountainous” it is not. The weather was a balmy seventy-five degrees, breaking away from the frigid temperatures back home. It was perfect for wearing shorts and t-shirts, playing Frisbee, and taking “artsy” photographs while we waited for the hotel to finish our rooms. The thought that we had nearly a week of no school only further propelled us into the most feared realm for all decathletes: procrastination.
Once we got inside, I didn’t know how we would ever be able to get anything done. The plush, aubergine couches downstairs practically begged for us to lounge on them, instead of reviewing. Our rooms all had views of the spectacular mountains, producing further distraction. Everything was sounding better than staring at paper.
Our coach watched us study with all the discipline of toddlers. Finally, she issued an ultimatum; competition was two days away. Either shape up, or lose. We trudged back to our rooms, thoroughly spooked, but still restless.
The boys were on a different floor, and the two most serious girls were down the hall. That left us, the final four, in one room, and extremely fidgety. We flopped on the beds, I plugged my iPod into its speaker, and we all tried, for the umpteenth time, to study.
I cannot study without music. I need background noise in order to focus. In fact, one of my favorite study techniques involves music. When I make a playlist, I always ensure that there are some high tempo songs mixed with the slow. The idea is that if my attention starts to wander, I can listen to a fun song and refocus. As I stared at my notes, the words swimming on the page, one of those songs came on: Green Day’s “American Idiot”.
We all instantly started humming. One girl harmonized with the vocalists, prompting us to belt out our best impressions of Billie Joe. I hopped on the bed during the breakdown, grabbing a highlighter to use as a microphone. We all preformed our best Rock Star moves, probably scaring the room next to us with our “sounds of hysteria” as we sung along. We collapsed into tired fits of laughter. A classical song came on, and I looked at my binder, suddenly ready to face the daunting task before me. After all, I wasn't an American Idiot.
Second-place medals greeted us on the final day thanks, in part, to our last minute study bursts. If I could, I would send a medal to Billie Joe as well; after all, he got half of our team back in shape with his rock anthem.
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