Bringing home some well-deserved honors, this year’s Escalon High Academic Decathletes garnered a total of 10 medals, earned in seven different categories, and also nabbed a team award for third place overall in the Small Schools Division.
“Escalon students brought home medals in music, literature, science, economics, essay writing, interview and speech,” said AcaDec advisor and EHS Spanish teacher George Megenney. “They did us proud.”
Senior and scholastic level starter David Esparza took home the highest number of medals with five total, with third place medals in literature, economics, essay and music, and a second place medal in science. Senior and scholastic level starter Giovanni Hermosillo took home two medals to add to his collection from last year, a second place medal in interview and a first place medal in essay. Senior and honors starter Anastassya Zack also took home two medals to add to her collection from last year, a third place award in essay and a first place award in speech.
“Senior and honors starter Maggie Casteel rounded off the treasure trove of awards with a rare same school first place tie in speech,” Megenney added.
Because the Academic Decathlon involves hundreds of students from more than a dozen high schools across the county, he explained, there are occasions when students earn the same score on a test or within an event.
“Such was apparently the case with both Anastassya and Maggie, who both walked away with gold medals for impressing the judges with the content and delivery of their speeches,” said Megenney. “I am so very proud of our team’s accomplishments and all of their hard work. We have team members who didn’t win individual recognition, but who helped to contribute to the earning of the team award we received.
“I think it’s noteworthy because we were operating without one of our varsity starters this year during the second day of competition because of an unfortunate scheduling conflict. Thus as a team we did quite well given our disadvantage.”
Megenney said he hopes the team’s success this year will encourage others to give the Academic Decathlon program at EHS a try.
“Students who want to participate in a program that encourages learning about a wide variety of subjects and challenges them to compete with students from other high schools in those subjects are welcome to join,” he said. “Students who want to include an excellent extracurricular activity in their student résumé, because thinking about college applications and the types of things that admissions officers are looking for is not a bad thing, are encouraged to participate.”
He also noted that juniors and seniors who join can earn transferable college credit, with 3 units made available from Cal State Sacramento.
“Every year I see students from other high school receive $20,000 scholarships from the University of the Pacific because they believe in the merits of the Academic Decathlon program. I would love to see one of our EHS students interested in attending UOP receive such an honor in the future,” Megenney said.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he noted, the school can’t have a complete team without students who have As, Bs and Cs on their report cards.
“The biggest single misconception about AcaDec is that it’s ‘only for the smart kids’,” said Megenney. “I’ve got news for you: it’s for kids who are willing to work hard in order to earn recognition for themselves. It’s good exercise for the brain, plus, it’s fun.
“Just ask the students who have participated, but wait until their mouths aren’t full of the pizza that Pizza Plus, a long-time supporter of our team, kindly delivers to us during our study sessions.”
The 33rd Annual Academic Decathlon Competition was held Jan. 25 and Feb. 1 at the San Joaquin County Office of Education, University of the Pacific, and the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Stockton. Competing were 13 San Joaquin County high schools and a guest school from Santa Clara County. The 2014 theme was World War I. The Decathlon included essay, interview, and speech competitions, objective tests in art, economics, language/literature, math, music, social science, science, and a high-energy Super Quiz.
Top Overall School was Tracy High School, Tracy Unified School District, which received the Dave Sorgent Winner’s Cup and will compete at the Academic Decathlon State Championship in Sacramento in March.
Second place overall went to Manteca High School, Manteca Unified School District and third place to Middle College, Lodi Unified School District.
Top Three Small Schools were Middle College, Lodi Unified School District, first; Stockton Early College Academy, Stockton Unified School District, second; and Escalon High School, Escalon Unified School District, third.
Top Three Large Schools were Tracy High, Tracy Unified School District, first; Manteca High School, Manteca Unified School District, second; and Lathrop High School, Manteca Unified School District, third.
Overall Top-Scoring Student was Robby Grewal, Tracy High, who received the $1000 Walter Rathhaus Award.
Top Three Super Quiz Teams were Manteca High School, Manteca Unified School District, first; Middle College, Lodi Unified School District, second; and Tracy High School, Tracy Unified School District, third.