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Another successful year for the Accounting Challenge

April 21, 2015, Christie Mitchell

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Area high school accounting students work together to build a free-standing structure.

More than 200 participants from local high schools and community colleges competed in the School of Accountancy’s 17th Annual Accounting Challenge at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The competition took place at the SIU Recreation Center, where students put their accounting skills to the test with a two-part competition.

The event began with an academic challenge, in which students took a 60-question exam that tested college-level accounting skills. The second challenge consisted of a team-building activity, where students were placed in groups and had to build a free-standing structure with a variety of supplies, including marshmallows, spaghetti noodles, straws and cups. That portion of the challenge tested students on their ability to work with others in unfamiliar situations. Scores were given for individual tests and for team challenges.

Dr. Larry Bush, a professor in the College of Engineering, helped judge the competition. The first-place winners of the tower-building competition built a structure that stood 65 inches tall, while the highest score in the individual skills test was 44 points.

Participants who placed highest in both challenges were awarded prizes that included trophies and 11 scholarships totaling $4,250 from the School of Accountancy.

Local businesses Attitude Designs and Quatros, along with the SIU Student Center, donated prizes for attendees. The prizes included gift certificates, T-shirts, hoodies and coupons.

Scott Polczynski, a graduate student in accounting, was notable for his involvement in planning the challenge for the fourth year in a row. Since high school, Polczynski has participated in the Accounting Challenge and has worked his way up from student participant to director of the challenge. His growing interest since freshman year has led him to plan a successful event for high school and local college students.

Polczynski says the planning starts early, consisting of emailing local schools, collecting donations, renting out the space and planning ahead for any problems that might occur.

This year’s event marked the second in a row that had to be rescheduled because of snowstorms, and Polczynski successfully rescheduled the event both times. His hard work has shown throughout the years, making each accounting challenge better than the last.

“This is one of my proudest things I’ve done here at SIU,” Polczynski said.

Although Polczynski will be graduating this semester, his dedication and hard work to make the Accounting Challenge a success will be remembered.