Clubs thrive virtually

Debate Team, Math Team, Academic Team, & Science Olympiad

At the end of 5th period on Friday, April 9, GCHS has a state send-off to celebrate  Science Olympiad Team, Math Team  and an Allstate Band Student Abbey Lake, as they participate in their respective state competitions. Photo by Payton Waigand

Payton Waigand

At the end of 5th period on Friday, April 9, GCHS has a state send-off to celebrate Science Olympiad Team, Math Team and an Allstate Band Student Abbey Lake, as they participate in their respective state competitions. Photo by Payton Waigand

Ellen Batty and Angelina Montes

Debate Team

The Debate Team is “a junior Congress” as described by club sponsor Chris D’Amico. The club debates bills submitted by members and votes whether they are for or against it. 

“We go back and forth…you would give a speech for the bill and say, I tried to convince people to vote for it, then I would go next and I would give a speech against the bill why this is a bad idea,” said D’Amico. The club also have debated about domestic terrorism and the attack on the capitol. The club meets on Wednesdays from 3 – 5:30 p.m. and has tournaments once a month, typically on Saturdays. After debating, members cross-check with each other and give constructive criticism. 

The last three years, the Debate Team has won an award in every competition they’ve competed in. There’s actually many different awards to be won. To win these awards is very simple. 

“There’s a position in the room called the presiding officer, and it’s a student, and it’s an elected position so what will happen is, there’s let’s say about 16 to 22 people in the [chamber] when we’re debating, and you get to elect one of those 16 people to run the show,” said D’Amico. This person calls the speeches. 

“You got to keep order, you got to call in questionnaires because after each speech you get two minutes of questioning. If you do a really good job, there’s three of these per tournament in each room, you get an award, which would be a gavel” said D’Amico. The debated bills are written by students. Out of the thirty schools that compete in the tournament, only nine bills make it in. The chances are low, but not impossible. At the end of the tournament, the students vote on their top three bills. 

Next year, the club will be losing their senior members.  “We don’t cut anybody, and we’re always looking for new members,” said D’Amico. To join, email Chris D’Amico at  “No matter when you join the team… if you give it your best and you listen to the people that have done it before and take advice from them and keep improving and really take it to heart, you’ll be a better speaker, a better researcher, you’ll more informed about current events, [and]’ll be better than when you started,” said D’Amico.

Math Team

The Math Team is really about “allowing kids to compete in areas of math that they’re familiar with and sometimes aren’t familiar with,” as described by club sponsor Benjamin Ault. The club has practice once a week on Thursdays or Fridays at 3:15. These are followed by competitions on Wednesdays or Thursdays nights, and occasionally Saturdays. 

When Math Team has practices, they “either work on problems from past contests, or practice. Sometimes there’s teaching involved, so if there’s a topic that maybe students aren’t familiar with, because maybe it’s something that we don’t cover in school or maybe it’s something that, especially for freshmen that wasn’t covered when they were in middle school, they will do some teaching in the virtual setup sometimes that means finding interesting YouTube videos where people have gone through and explain the process. This year we use an online program that kids could access to practice different topics that they might not see otherwise as well,” said Ault. 

The Math Team has much to offer. “The big thing for us…is that we want kids to be able to be involved in multiple activities and still feel like they can be involved in math,” Ault states. For example, Math Team has members also involved with girl’s basketball and science olympiad. This year, the Math Team has been very successful in their contests. 

“We’ve had some teams who’ve won…team events, we’ve won individual events overall… I think we’ve had a really good year.” said Ault. The members are also proud of their accomplishments and their confidence growth.

 “They’re proud of what they’ve done and we try to express that…a student who is going to compete and is going to give it their all…especially in difficult situations where some of the tests are pretty difficult….we’re proud of that.” Ault said. Unfortunately, this year a state competition will not be held due to Covid, but Ault had many students who qualified if one had been held.

The club plans to do their best for next year too. Ault has his own goals for the club. “I hope for more kids to come out… we have a small class of seniors this year, and a small class of freshmen. So really I’m hoping that if we’re in school full time face to face, you know, I’m hoping that we have more kids come,” he said. To join the Math Team, one just needs to show up to one of their practices. The club is always looking for new members, so any student taking interest should email Ault at

 “We’re keeping making progress and you’re learning something, and to me that’s, you know, important that they know that from our perspective that makes us proud,” said Ault.

Academic Team

The Grayslake Central Academic Team is a club that practices and competes in answering different questions, all varying from different categories kind of like jeopardy.

 In an academic team competition there are, “two schools, five teams [and] five people on [a] team, answer[ing] questions and try[ing] to score the most points,” said club sponsor Dan Gallagher. Due to the pandemic, they started meeting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and have been doing so virtually since November. Academic Team is a fast growing team this year, as they did not have a junior varsity team last year, but this school year, they have a JV and a varsity. Academic Team helps students prepare for the competitions by quizzing each other during practices and answering different practice questions. 

Club sponsor Debbie Hofer recalls some of her most exciting memories about sponsoring the Academic Team. ”We won regionals once, not this season, but we did win our regional tournament and went to sectionals. So that was exciting to go not only win the conference tournament, but to win our regionals, then I think [of] …seeing how the kids … have so much fun. They help each other.”

 Academic Team is competitive but also has a lot to do with teamwork. Next year the Academic Team plans to start in late September or early October, so if you’re looking to get involved in the Academic Team go to the GCHS activities website, and look more into if the Academic Team is for you! You could even try reaching out to Hofer or Gallagher, who would love to see new faces at their meetings next year. 

Science Olympiad

The Grayslake Central Science Olympiad is a club that participates in competitions that vary from 23 different science related events. Each person will be in about three events that they will work on through the year. According to the head coach Joey Philipp, “Depending on the event, team members will build, experiment, study, or some combination of these things over the course of the year to help prepare for competitions.” The events vary in content that they cover and the way students compete in them. Science Olympiad meets on Mondays at 3:30 to cover any recent news and updates. The rest of the week students will meet separately among their groups over Zoom. 

This year Science Olympiad did still have competitions although they didn’t get to do any in person meetings, they did still meet over Zoom. Philipp stated that “My favorite memory from this year was the awards Zoom that we had for regionals. Being able to see everyone’s expression finding out we are going to state was great!  It was so much fun to be able to celebrate that moment as a team.” Since the Science Olympiad placed in regionals they got to advance on to the state tournament.

Next year’s Science Olympiad  plans to start with some informational meetings earlier around the beginning of the year and then really going into their season in November, so if you’re looking to get involved in the Science Olympiad go to the GCHS activities website, and look more into if Science Olympiad is for you! You could even try reaching out to Coach Philipp, who would love to see new faces at the meetings next year.