10 VHS students compete in state UIL Academics Viper team wins first in district, region

L-R Pierce Lao, Bo Deng, Varun Gorti (not pictured Nicholas Rose)

Vandegrift students on the UIL Academics team competed in a variety of academic contests, and performed well among many district, region and state competitions. State was held May 4 – 5 at the University of Texas in Austin and 10 Vipers competed after preparing all school year.

“Whenever you see anyone with a ‘VHS Smarties’ shirt, give them a high five! These are our UIL Academic students for the 2017-2018 school year… and they’ve worked hard all year,” said Madeline Fulton, English teacher and the UIL Academics team coordinator.

The Viper accounting team crushed it with first place team, and the top four scorers listed first place to fourth place: Suhas Avirneni, Whitney Tran, Neel Agarwal and Keaton Scott. These students went on to compete in region where Avirneni took first place and went onto compete in the state competition on May 5.

VHS student Neil Rathod placed second at district in calculator applications and went onto compete at region.

The computer science team’s hard work paid off when they took first place team at district and region. Pierce Lai and Bo Deng took first and second place respectively at the district competition. Deng also took third place at region.

“Just making it to state is a tremendous accomplishment in Computer Science,” said Galen Goodreau, computer Science coach. “This is only the second time in LISD history that a Computer Science team has made it to state.”

Viper Journalism racked up major awards winning first place district team and first place region team.  

“My journalism kids have been writing their UIL Leaguetown practice prompts to prepare for state,” said Lela Coker, journalism coach. “We’ve never had three journalism kids advance in the same year to state.”

In editorial writing, Camden Perez took second place and Megan Messer took third place at district. Perez went on to place second at region.


In feature writing, Codi Farmer received the first place score with Harshita Avirneni scoring second place at district.


In headline writing, VHS students took the top three spots at district, respectively: Sarah Tierney with first followed by Avirneni, and Jennifer Walker. Tierney and Walker took first and second place at region, and Walker placed 5th at the state competition.

“Winning region was awesome,” said Jennifer Walker, junior. “My jaw dropped when they announced my name at regionals.”

In news writing, Tierney and Natalie Brink took first and second place moving onto the region competition while Lily Beth Kerr received fifth place at district.Tierney went on to place third at district and 4th at the state competition for news writing.

Viper science students also crushed their competition! Pierce Lai, Lucy Xu, and Victor Lai took the top three spots at district with Caroline Li and Andrew Tang receiving a true tie for sixth place! Piece Lai received the top score in both biology and physics while Xu received the top score in chemistry at district. At the region competition, Xu received fourth place in science and first place in chemistry going onto the state competition where she received third place in chemistry.

The social studies team also took first place at district with Rayhan Jhanji in 1st place, Johnathan Kaaua in 3rd place, Brandon Sheneman in 4th place, and Isabelle Grimesey received 5th place. At region, Jhanji placed first, going onto the state competition, while Brandon received 4th place.

In spelling and vocabulary, Abhinav Karnati received the second place at district and went on to represent VHS at the region competition.

Vandegrift Voice reporter Lily Beth Kerr contributed to this article

Suhas Avirneni

Jennifer Walker, left, Sarah Tierney, right, compete at state in journalism contests.