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Decathletes Take On Academic Challenge
Senior Kaylee Weible, a member of the starting team, practices her speech during a meeting of the Aca Dec participants on Friday afternoon, prior to competing on Saturday, Jan. 30. Marg Jackson/The Times


A relatively small – but they hope mighty – contingent of students is taking part in this year’s San Joaquin County Academic Decathlon representing Escalon High School.

The Aca Dec kicked off with essays and speeches already, while this coming Saturday, Feb. 6, will see a variety of tests for all participants and the Super Quiz competition in Stockton.

Escalon’s starters this year are Lilliana Koller, Maia Zack and Zoe Brown, Honors; Mitzy Saucedo, Kaylee Weible, Scholastic; Ashley Nicholas, Mariana Alvarado, Varsity. Alternates are Christian Rodriguez, Brooke Anderson, Lorena Peralta, Juli Avila, Matthew Lima and Roxana Morales.

In her fourth year on the team, senior Lilliana Koller said she has enjoyed her time being involved in the scholastic competition.

“I did Aca Pen (Academic Pentathlon) in Middle School,” she said, adding that it was natural to continue on with the Academic Decathlon for high school.

She said it does take dedication and perseverance, especially if you want to win.

“Focus on what you’re good at,” she said of those considering joining the team.

She also hopes to bring home a medal this year, having one last shot at some hardware.

Koller enjoys the speech competition and pints to science/ecology as a favorite subject.

“It’s a good experience, you get to learn about more things,” she said, noting that she has gained knowledge about Russia, World War II, India and more through the program.

“I’m going to miss it,” she added.

Of the starting team, Koller, Zack, Saucedo, Brown, Alvarado and Weible are seniors, Nicholas is a junior.

A recent practice saw the starters working on their speeches, delivering them for teammates and taking feedback on the topic, delivery, and overall presentation. Those speeches were presented to judges during the first day of the event, Jan. 30. The Super Quiz for the starting team and the multiple choice tests for all team members will be Saturday, Feb. 6.

Escalon also will head to the event in style, sporting matching team sweatshirts. The statement on the back – Knowledge Conquers Ignorance – is emblazoned in Latin. Coaching the team again this year is teacher George Megenney, who said the students are dedicated to the competition and have worked hard to prepare. Topic for this year’s Super Quiz, he added, is India, which some of the students studied previously when they are on the middle school Aca Pen team.