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Students Ready For Academic Battle
Back for his second year at the helm of Escalon's Academic Decathlon team, Escalon High Spanish teacher George Megenney said his students have been working hard to prepare for the upcoming 'battle of the brains' in Stockton.

There are nine starters on the team and a number of alternates, with the 'scoring nine' headed to University of the Pacific (UOP) for the first round of competition this Saturday, Jan. 31. All AcaDec team members will participate in the competition on Saturday, Feb. 7, with the chance for individual honors as well as team recognition.

The starting team includes students from three academic categories, honors, scholastic and varsity. Honors students are Christina Wong, William Dunbar and Humberto Diaz, with Kelly Irons, Flor Acevedo and Jessica Carranza the Scholastic students and Varsity students Jennifer Masters, Daniel Beckwith and Christian Clason rounding out the squad.

"We have about 25 altogether," Megenney noted. "April or May of last year we got the material for this year so we started meeting every other week during the summer."

Megenney said the group usually met at Pizza Plus for their study sessions and he thanked the business for its support.

"The owner was very generous in giving us a group discount every time we came in for pizza," he said, noting it was a way for the business to support the school's enrichment programs.

Months of preparation have gone into the battle, with the students also meeting on a regular basis in school, during the reading period.

Megenney and his team were busy during Thursday's reading period, Jan. 22, going over a sample test.

"This will be my last year," Masters, a senior, said. "I feel we have a really solid team and I look forward to competing, I'm looking to win some scholarship money with college coming up."

Escalon has a tradition of success at the Academic Decathlon, including a string of small school victories over the course of several years. They performed well last year and Megenney is hoping for at least as good a showing, if not better, this year.

This Saturday's event will put the starters in competition with other schools in the Interview, Impromptu Speech and Formal Speech areas.

"I'm really excited about it," said junior Kelly Irons of being on the scoring team this year.

She is especially looking forward to the impromptu speech event.

"I found out I'm good at the impromptu speeches, thinking on my feet," she said.

The second weekend includes the popular, crowd-friendly Super Quiz event and this year's theme is Biological Evolution.

The second Saturday is also when all team members attend and take tests in a variety of categories, from art to economics, music to essay and math, all for points, medals, team honors, school honors and scholarship money.