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The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

The Student News Site of Tompkins High School

The Nestline

Academic UIL: What You Need to Know


Excitement buzzes throughout the auditorium as the audience of families and proud teachers await the results of the competition that has been taking place for the last couple of hours. All the rows in the large room are packed with eager people full of school spirit, and a wide variety of school colors can be seen throughout the large space. Teacher Jason Gigliotti is among those in the audience, a hand on his chin as he looks upon his team standing on the stage. With a look of concentration marking his features, he mentally prepares for what is to come. It is as if time stands still as the judge slowly makes his way back to the podium, the atmosphere filling with tension and nervousness from the teams who participated in the contest. Seeing his students smiling and standing tall with confidence in front of many brings a smile to Gigliotti’s face, who knows very well how these events go down.

“Anybody that wants to be in Academic UIL has to be somebody who is willing to commit sometime away from school,” said Gigliotti. “Depending on the subject and contest, some students will need to devote more time out of school than others will.”

With a range of contests over subjects like English, Science, Math, Journalism, Social Studies and Current Events, Academic UIL allows students to compete against other schools on regional and state levels. However, joining this program isn’t easy, as there are sacrifices students might need to make if they are fully devoted to it.

“Because there isn’t an Academic UIL period in which I could meet with all the students every day, the person interested must be aware of the time they must devote to it,” said Gigliotti.

For example, in a Social Studies contest there is a novel that students must read before the competition, not to mention all the other outside information that should also be known. In a spelling contest, a lot of work outside the school is required to make it on the team. Those in Math and Science events may only have to prepare by taking practice tests with their coaches and meeting with them from time to time.

“We would love to recruit freshmen into this program, because then there’s continuity, however typically it’s full of upperclassmen,” Gigliotti said.

Some contests such as Science require the participating students to have had engaged in physics, chemistry and biology, meaning that juniors and seniors are preferred because they have already taken those classes. Because of this, freshmen have it a little harder to participate, however Gigliotti believes that freshmen could definitely do well in other subjects such as Current Events in Social Studies.

“Confidence is a big skill a student will achieve out of this, because of the pressure of knowing you are going to be competing against the best and brightest in the district,” said Gigliotti.

Depending on the subject the student takes part in, they will benefit from the different skills acquired throughout the experience. Writing skills are one of those, as each event contains a written aspect. By taking time out of school for the program, students will also increase their skill of self-study and learn how to juggle responsibilities as well.


“They are willing to do what is necessary outside of school and prepare for the events,” said Gigliotti.

Gigliotti has coached Academic UIL teams for 10 years, most of them being social studies and current events, and this is his first year of being a UIL coordinator at Tompkins. He believes that what is most amazing about this experience is that he finds students who are willing to give up an entire Saturday to participate in multiple academic events.

“I told Mr. Grisdale I was not going to coach just to do it,” said Gigliotti. “I want to beat Seven Lakes, I want to beat Taylor, and I want to beat Cinco Ranch.”

As far as last school year, the current events team and several other teams advanced to regionals. Gigliotti’s goal for this year is to win and reach farther than last year. For new recruits and students who are interested, Gigliotti states that pacing one’s self is the most important thing everyone can do in the program, as well as meeting with the coaches and preparing ahead of time before the competitions. The teams for Academic UIL prepare separately based on their subjects and coaches. Teachers Macey Godfrey and Bryan Johnson are a few of the coaches a student could get, based on their chosen subject. Anybody can join, however because contests are limited to four or five people, it can be challenging to get in. If interested, see Gigliotti in room 1638 who will give more information regarding the program.

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