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Academic Decathlon

On February 1, 2014, at Sonora High School in Sonora, CA, seventy-six students from five high schools will compete in the 32nd Annual Regional Academic Decathlon Competition. Participating high schools include Bret Harte High School from Angels Camp, Mountain Oaks School from San Andreas, Sonora High School from Sonora, Summerville High School from Tuolumne, and Tioga High School from Groveland.

The Academic Decathlon is a premiere national scholastic competition for high school students. It was created to provide opportunities for students to experience the challenges of rigorous team and individual academic competition. Each student competes in ten events which are economics, essay, art, interview, language and literature, math, music, social science, speech, and Written Super Quiz. The top nine students from each school will compete against each other in the Oral Super Quiz. The oral relay portion of the Super Quiz is the only part of the actual testing that is open to the public, and it is inevitably one of the most memorable and exciting parts of the Academic Decathlon competition.

The ten-event academic program strives to foster a greater respect for knowledge, to promote wholesome inter-school academic competition, and to further develop student communication skills. A unique aspect of the Academic Decathlon is that it is designed to include students from all academic abilities and achievement levels. Each nine-member team from each school consists of three students in Honor division, three students in Scholastic division, and three students in Varsity division, all placed in each division by the student’s grade point average. Each team member competes in all ten events against other students in their individual divisions. However, team scores are calculated using the top two individual scores from each division to arrive at an overall team score.

Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded for individual events and total scores. Overall individual winners are recognized as are champion teams. The broad base of awards allows for major recognition of academic accomplishment. Teams advance through local, regional and state levels of competition. The local champions will travel to Sacramento to compete in the state competition on March 20-23, 2014. The state champions will then go on to compete at the national finals in April 2014 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A new theme of study is established every year with topics that are relevant, current and challenging. This year’s curricular theme is World War I. Students will compose an essay based on a prompt whose central theme incorporates information relating to the current curriculum. Students will also perform a prepared speech and impromptu speech and participate in an interview before a panel of community volunteer judges. The Academic Decathlon emphasizes the personal and academic growth of each student who, by meeting the challenges with honesty and integrity, can reap the rewards of greater self-knowledge and self-confidence for the future.