North Decatur academic team is state-bound

Apr. 22—GREENSBURG — The North Decatur High School academic team will compete in state trials at 12:30 p.m. May 4 at Purdue University.

This will be the fourth consecutive year they have scored marks high enough to make them eligible for competition in the state championships.

According to NDHS history teacher and academic coach Ernie Ruble, Team A, consisting of Lillian Gardner, Breanna McBride and Jesse Wagner, and Team B, consisting of Grant Bruner, Vanessa Apostolakos and Cletus Rennekamp, will attend the event.

Each competing school may only send one team to the event.

"We have all studied and practiced to make us all better, so I am taking all six members," Ruble said.

State academic competitions in Indiana began when H. Dean Evans, then Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction, organized the first Spell Bowl. That competition grew from a desire to create a contest in which teams of spellers vied to determine not an individual winner but a winning school.

By relieving pressure on a single speller and creating a goal for a 10-member squad, this spelling competition was a major departure from the long-standing model of the American spelling bee. Continuing high levels of involvement at elementary, junior, and senior levels testify to its success.

Today, academic competitions are set deeply in place. Almost every public high school in Indiana competes at regional competitions.

Purdue University sponsors and hosts the state contests. Many former competitors now serve as coaches.

In 2023, Ernie Ruble was named the 2023 Academic Coach of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Principals.

Ruble has taught for 35 years, and he rarely misses an opportunity to support his students. He graduated from North Decatur High School before attending Ball State where he earned his teaching credentials.

After receiving his bachelor degree in 1989, Ruble taught in the Jac-Cen-Del school system where he also coached basketball and the junior high track team.

In 2012, he accepted the position of social studies teacher at North Decatur where he sponsors the National Honor Society and coaches the junior and senior high History academic team.

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-651-0876 or email