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February 25, 2004

Purdue partners with principals, academic bowls to spell success

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Some 30,000 Indiana K-12 students can learn while they compete, thanks to a $300,000 commitment from Purdue University to sponsor academic competitions administered by the Indiana Association of School Principals.

Roncalli High School students
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Purdue President Martin C. Jischke told approximately 100 Indianapolis business leaders today (Wednesday, 2/25) at the Holiday Inn North that Purdue is contributing $100,000 per year to fund the competitions. The leaders also saw, and took part in, a mock competition.

"Purdue wants to strengthen preparatory education by getting involved with prekindergarten through 12th-grade students – particularly in the areas of reading, math and science," Jischke said. "Our alliance with the association and its academic competitions will go a long way toward making sure that Indiana students are academically prepared once they arrive at Purdue."

Don K. Gentry, Purdue's vice provost for engagement, said the three-year commitment reflects the university's strategic plan.

"Purdue has a rich history of supporting academic excellence in Indiana elementary and secondary schools," Gentry said. "Purdue's strategic plan emphasizes the desire to form partnerships with K-12 schools to help them attain higher levels of academic excellence."

Stephen Heck, Indiana Association of School Principals executive director, said Purdue fills a critical void.

"Purdue has stepped up at a time when corporate sponsors are increasingly hard to come by," Heck said. "We feel very fortunate to have the financial stability to offer high-quality competitions and that our ongoing mission of promoting and improving the education of children and youth can thrive."

The principals' association oversees spelling and math competitions involving teams of elementary, middle school and high school students; "Super Bowls" in which teams of middle and high school students compete in English, math, science, fine arts and social studies categories; and a statewide academic decathlon in which teams of high school students compete through tests, essays, speeches and interviews to advance to a national competition.

In addition to providing funding, Purdue assists with question writing, presenting awards and offering promotional and technical assistance. Purdue and the association also will explore the development and introduction of new competitions as well as the potential for hosting online competitions made possible by Purdue's Web design experts.

Besides these academic competitions, the association provides a full range of services for building-level administrators so they can provide instructional leadership and effective management to Indiana schools, Heck said. Through its student programs, the association reaches out to thousands of Indiana students each year and provides them with curriculum-enhancing activities that assist each child in reaching his or her potential.

Sources: Don Gentry, (765) 494-9095,

Stephan Heck, (317) 576-5400 ext. 210,

Kyle Harrop, IASP student program director, (317) 576-5400 Ext. 220,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Roncalli High School students Michael Parrett, Fatima Patino and Brian Bauman, from left, celebrate a correct answer at the Academic Decathlon competition sponsored by Purdue University on Feb. 13-14. Students from more than 20 schools from throughout Indiana competed in the academic competition, which is one of several contests funded by Purdue and administered by the Indiana Association of School Principals. (Division of Instructional Services file photo/John Underwood.)

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