UIL Academics: District Destroyers

CP Takes School Sweepstakes


Paige Hert

Posing around the front office Timberwolf, the district champion UIL team celebrates their team and individual wins. The district UIL Academics competition took place on March 24, 25 and 30 and Cedar Park has 25 students advancing to Regionals on April 21-22 at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “I had a lot of fun and I’m excited to continue onto Region,” senior Ashley Chikkala said.

Iliana V Tangarova, Reporter

For the second year in a row, the UIL Academics team are 25-5A district champions.

“I’m very happy and pleased with the success that we’ve had the past two years,” AP United States History teacher and Academic UIL Coordinator Josh Marsh said. “The program has definitely been growing since I took over, and I think it’s growing in the right direction. I know academics isn’t as fancy or flashy as athletics can be, but I think [this has] showed that our school not only has those athletics, but also the academic piece which truly showcases the talent at Cedar Park.”

UIL Academics, sponsored by the Texas nonprofit organization University Interscholastic League, has around 30 contests at the high school level involving subjects like computer science, debate, math and writing. The district meet was held on March 24 – 25 at Cedar Park High School, with speech and debate competing on March 30 in Florence, Texas at the Santa Rosa De Lima Catholic Church. 

“A big part of UIL that I enjoy is being able to meet people from other schools,” senior and UIL Computer Science District Champion Arnav Batra said. “We got to compete against these kids from Hays and Liberty Hill, and it was really cool hearing about their experiences – not just in UIL, but also what they do outside of UIL.” 

The school also has a history of students and teams placing within the top three and winning many awards, as it just did this year, with 25 students advancing to Regionals in mid April.

“In [the] written [part of the Computer Science test], I placed first with a score of 226 out of 240,” said Batra. “As a team in [the] programming [portion], we also won, which means we’ll be advancing to Region.”

While success feels great, according to Batra, it is the preparation that pushes students to progress into the competition.

 “[The Computer Science team] meets every week in Mrs. Whalen’s room and we run through a set of released packets, either from State, Region, or District,” Batra said. “It’s a set of 12 problems that we just work through on one computer per team, just to get a feel for how we all work and where everyone’s strengths are. Individually, I do a lot of practice on my own, like taking practice tests, scoring myself and then going to places like LeetCode and W3Schools and other softwares to kind of fill in my knowledge gaps.”

The students’ successes are not limited to STEM, as students competing in competitions like Literary Criticism, Journalism and Social Studies are also advancing to Region. 

“I placed first in News Writing and Editorial Writing,” senior Erin Pish, who competed in Journalism UIL, said. “All year, we’ve been going to different invitationals, and even though those don’t matter nearly as much as District, they’re good practice. We also do plenty of practice in class and get feedback from our teacher.”

UIL brings a different environment to learning. As students from all across the state gather, students like senior Ashley Chikkala feel a sense of camaraderie, even with competitors. Chikkala, who competed and placed first for Literary Criticism, said that an environment like UIL Academics creates togetherness.

“The UIL Academics cafeteria, when everyone’s preparing, is so strange in a good way,” Chikkala said. “You’ll be there at nine in the morning – everyone has energy drinks and so much sugar. Someone’s talking about computer science, someone’s teaching you how to code, someone’s trying to figure out ‘Who wrote this poem in the 1400s?’, and someone else is trying to figure out how to do accounting. It’s strange, but the chaos is really fun at the same time. Everyone is super supportive – if you go to another team to ask for food, water, caffeine or general help, they’ll be happy to provide it.”

The next round of competition of UIL Academics will take place on April 21 and 22 at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The full list of students progressing to Regionals can be found here.