A group of students are competing to create the tallest possible paper tower that would withstand navigating an obstacle course

Hundreds of students from about 20 high schools in a 100-mile radius of SIU competed in the 26th annual accounting challenge, which included a team competition to create the tallest possible paper tower that would withstand navigating an obstacle course. They also competed individually in written accounting tests. (Photos by Russell Bailey)

February 05, 2024

Students from all over region win scholarships, prizes at SIU’s Accounting Challenge

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hundreds of high school students from far and wide showed their accounting expertise and problem-solving skills as they competed for college scholarships, trophies and other prizes at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s 26th annual Accounting Challenge on Feb. 2.

Sponsored by the School of Accountancy in the College of Business and Analytics and State Farm, the event featured both individual and team competitions.  

Accounting knowledge translates to scholarships and trophies

The event began with participants competing in individual written accounting quizzes, and participants in each division earning the highest scores won certificates and scholarships worth up to $500 if they attend SIU and major in accounting. The individual contest winners, listed by event, along with their school and potential scholarship earnings, are:

Accounting 1

  • First place, $500 – Andrew Robey, O’ Fallon Township High School.
  • Second place, $300 – (tie) Cyndee Wood, Marion High School; Aubree Thompson, Marion High School; Ridge Davis, Centralia High School; Brennan Smith, O’Fallon Township High School.
  • Third place, $250 – (tie) Carsen Chelin, Marion High School; Nathaly Villagran, O’Fallon Township High School.

Accounting 2

  • First place, $500 – Hailey Henderson, Jackson High School (Jackson, Missouri).
  • Second place, $300 – Lex White, O’Fallon Township High School; Kennedy Crays, Flora High School; Kathryn Jennings, Flora High School; Haydan Little, Marion High School.
  • Third place, $250 – Makenzy Pedtke, Nashville High School; Delsie Penrod, Jackson High School; Sadie Skillette, Centralia High School; Kathryn Wondel, Jackson High School.

Creativity comes to the forefront

accounting-004-sm.jpgThen, the nearly 300 students from about 20 high schools as far as about 100 miles away paired up for the team portion of the competition during which they faced a unique challenge conceived for them by Larry Busch, an emeritus School of Art and Design faculty member. Their goal was to build from paper and tape the tallest yet most stable tower possible; the tower had to remain standing as they walked an obstacle course carrying it. They got bonus points if their tower could withstand a blowing fan.

There was plenty of laughter and experimentation as they tackled the challenge, and the rivalry was intense. The winning tower was more than 250 inches tall.

When the results were tabulated, trophies were awarded to the winning teams as well as to individual team members.

Top teams

The team competition winners, listed by division and school, were:

Accounting 1

  • First place – Nashville High School Team 5: Griffin Briles, Ethan Pinski, Aidan Morgan, Dakota Bannert.
  • Second place – (tie) Flora High School Team 1: Elena Warren, Adam Pietz, Quinten Black; Marion High School Team 5: Emma Mohler, Aubree Thompson, Avery Wolfe.

Accounting 2

  • First place – (tie) Nashville High School Team 13: Kinzie Klingeman, Peyton Lingle, Merytt Zgonina; Flora High School Team 8: Elijah Luzadder, Lawson Spicer, Kathryn Jennings, Kennedy Crays.
  • Second place – Jackson High School Team 5: Delsie Penrod, Hailey Henderson, Kathryn Wondel.

The accounting challenge is a popular SIU tradition dating back more than a quarter of a century that involves a lot of preparation, hard work and dedication by event organizers, many of whom are student volunteers.