Valencia High wins O.C. Academic Decathlon
COSTA MESA – Valencia High School has won the 2012 Orange County Academic Decathlon, the school’s second title in the past four years.
The team from Placentia edged out defending champion Westminster High for the crown, according to results announced Thursday night at Orange Coast College.
Valencia’s victory netted the school an automatic berth to the state championship next month in Sacramento. Westminster placed second in the Division I category, while Irvine’s Woodbridge High placed third.
“We had a good feeling, but we just didn’t know for sure until we heard our team called,” said Tessa Young, a senior on the team. “It’s so exciting. We are all so thrilled.”
Valencia will also receive $3,000 to assist with the cost of the trip to the state competition. Westminster and La Quinta High qualified for the finals as wild cards after receiving the second- and third-highest overall scores in the county. Each of those teams will receive $2,000 to help with their travel expenses.
La Quinta High in Westminster won the Division II title, and Sage Hill School in Newport Coast won the Division III crown.
Valencia has qualified for the state finals each of the past four years. The school also won the overall county crown in 2009.
“They just worked really hard, they deserve everything that comes to them,” said Fred Jenkins, the team’s coach.
Team members said they studied for 10 to 15 hours a week in the days leading up to the county competition.
The Orange County Academic Decathlon competition ran Jan. 28 to Saturday at high schools throughout the county. For students and parents, the most exciting part of the competition was Saturday’s Super Quiz, a fast-paced quiz show inside the gymnasium at Westminster High.
Most of the 550 “decathletes” had practiced for months in preparation for Saturday’s final round. Students arrived at the gym dressed in everything from crisp suits and track jackets to sweat pants and Hawaiian shirts.
The decathlon also included written exams, speeches and interviews. The theme for this year’s decathlon was the “Age of Imperialism: The Making of a European Global Order.”
The competition is a co-ed, after-school program where ninth- through 12th-graders compete as individuals and as teams in 10 academic tests and demonstrations, much like high school sports.
Each nine-member team includes three “A” students, three “B” students and three “C” students.
The Academic Decathlon originated in Orange County in 1968, the brainchild of former county schools Superintendent Robert Peterson. Peterson’s idea caught on and went statewide in 1979 and nationwide in 1982.
“The Academic Decathlon supports deeper learning in many subject areas, and it offers students at various academic levels the opportunity to develop the essential 21st century skills of teamwork, communication and problem solving,” said county Superintendent William Habermehl.
The state finals are March 15-18 in Sacramento.
The winners in each division were:
1st: Valencia High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
2nd: Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
3rd: Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District
4th: Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
5th: Mission Viejo High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
1st: La Quinta High School, Garden Grove Unified School District
2nd: Marina High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
3rd: Oxford Academy, Anaheim Union High School District
4th: Fountain Valley High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
5th: Tustin High School, Tustin Unified School District
1st: Sage Hill School, Private, Newport Coast
2nd: Northwood High School, Irvine Unified School District
3rd: San Juan Hills High School, Capistrano Unified School District
4th: Sunny Hills High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
5th: Brea Olinda High School, Brea Olinda Unified School District
Divisions are determined by schools’ average scores from competitions in the previous years.
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