accounting challenge

March 25, 2022

Students win scholarships, prizes at SIU’s 24th annual Accounting Challenge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — More than 200 high school students from across the region vied for college scholarships, trophies and other prizes at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s 24th annual Accounting Challenge.

The School of Accountancy in the College of Business and Analytics sponsored the during which participants tested their skills in both individual and team competitions on March 18. 

The challenge tested the accounting knowledge and skills as well as the problem-solving expertise of the participants who came from high schools all over the region. 

Wendell Williams, associate chancellor of enrollment management, Bridgette Sargent, assistant dean for the college, and Marcus Odom, interim director of the accountancy school and Deloitte & Touche Faculty Fellow, welcomed the enthusiastic. Chancellor Austin Lane stopped by and spoke to the participants as well.

Accounting knowledge earns scholarships and trophies

The event began with the students competing in individual written accounting quizzes. The participants in each division who earned the highest scores won certificates and scholarships worth up to $500 if they attend SIU and major in accounting. The top teams claimed trophies, along with individual trophies for team members. In addition, all participants received special event T-shirts. When the competition wrapped up, the scores were tallied and a total of up to $9,250 in scholarships was awarded. 

Top individual honors

The individual contest winners listed by event, school, along with their potential scholarship earnings, were:

Accounting I – High School

  • First place, $500 – (tie) Kaden Vollmer and Brandy Halloran, both of O’Fallon Township High School; Layne Jones, Pinckneyville Community High School; Morgan Heil, Hamilton County High School; Jasmine Chau, Flora High School; and Layton Dillard, Massac County High School.
  • Second place, $300 – (tie) Carson Burkett, Woodlawn High School; Raelyn Dearing, Centralia High School; Sarah Restoff, James Davis, and Molly Doerflein, all of Pinckneyville Community High School; Mahek Desai, Flora High School; Reed McCuan, Massac County High School; and Janaye Cosby, O’Fallon Township High School.
  • Third place, $250 – (tie) William Graham, Centralia High School; Hannah Williams, O’Fallon Township High School; Vaden Szczepanski, Pinckneyville Community High School; and Isaac Wrzesinski, Nashville Community High School.

Advanced Accounting (Accounting II) – High School

  • First place, $500 – (tie) Mitchell Carpizo, O’Fallon Township High School; Abby Allen and Ben Watson, both of Centralia High School.
  • Second place, $300 – (tie) Tyler O’Neill, Centralia High School; and Katie Bach, Vernon Township High School.
  • Third place, $250 – (tie) Zada Wilkey, Vernon Township High School; Vincent Beatty, Nashville Community High School; and Stevie Miller, O’Fallon Township High School.

Teams faced creative challenges

The students then paired up for the team portion of the competition during which they faced three unique challenges. Larry Busch, an emeritus SIU School of Art and Design faculty member, conceived one of the challenges while the other two were concocted by current SIU accounting students.

The first task was to create the tallest free-standing tower possible, using just a 20 sheets of copy paper, a paper plate, a four-foot strip of masking tape and scissors. Points were awarded based on the tower’s height. The tallest measured an amazing 96 inches.

Next came a Kahoot! quiz with participants answering accounting questions such as “What is the cost of goods sold equation?” and entertaining pop culture questions like “Put these apps in order from newest to oldest: Reddit, Roblox, Facetime, Kik and Messenger.” They had just 30 seconds to respond.

The third challenge was a money grab requiring each team member to scoop money into a paper plate using a spatula while blindfolded. Each team had the same mixture of money available but there were a couple of twists as of the money was stamped “void” while some was designated as worth up to five times the face value. Each team member had thirty seconds and the goal was to get as many bills on the plate in two minutes as possible. The top team gathered $833. 

Laughter abounded in the Student Recreation Center gymnasium through the competition and the rivalry was intense.

The students’ scores for the three challenges comprised 75 percent of their team challenge score while the remaining 25 percent of their total came from their marks on the individual tests.

Top teams

The team competition winners, listed by division and school, along with the names of team members and their teacher), were:

Accounting I – High School Team

  • First place – Flora High School: Alicia Westjohn (teacher), Dani Henson, Eli Duke, Lanie Carder, Quincy Booth.
  • Second place – Pinckneyville Community High School: Heather Genesio (teacher), Sarah Restoff, Jillian Shaneyfelt, James Davis, Layne Jones.

Accounting II – High School Team

  • First place – Centralia High School: Beth Toennies (teacher), Abby Allen, Tyler O’Neil, Ben Watson.
  • Second place – Vernon Township High School: Julie Hayes (teacher), Katie Bach, Blaze Greathouse, Zada Wilkey.

SIU students led the way

The accounting challenge is coordinated by SIU students and continuing a tradition that dates back more than two decades requires imagination, dedication and hard work by the event’s student organizers, according to Odom.

Coordinators for this year’s competition were:

  • Vonni Waters, a master’s student in accountancy from Boonville, Indiana.
  • Beining Jiang, a junior accounting major from Changchun, China.
  • Loralei Glueck, a junior accounting major from Tremont, Illinois.
  • Jaiden Sanders, a junior accounting major from Vienna, Illinois.
  • Nija Harvey, administrative aide, School of Accountancy.

Other students, faculty and staff assisted with the event as well.

accounting challenge