Tuesday, 21 May 2024

Students make final preparations for Saturday's Academic Decathlon

LAKE COUNTY – This weekend, a year's worth of strenuous study will be put to the test in Lake County’s 30th annual Academic Decathlon.

The public is welcome to attend the last part of a 10-part testing process – the Super Quiz – as well as the awards ceremony right after, which will be held this Saturday, Feb. 6, at Upper Lake High School's multi-use room, 675 Clover Valley Road.

Doors to Upper Lake’s multi-use room open at 4 p.m., yet the students will have been testing since 8:30 a.m., according to Robin Totorica, Lake County’s Academic Decathlon coordinator. The competition's essay portion took place on Jan. 22

“The academic decathlon is a valuable program,” said Lake County Superintendent of Schools Dave Geck, whose office sponsors the event. “It is an opportunity for the community to celebrate their students’ academic excellence.”

This year’s theme will be the French Revolution.

The Super Quiz will focus on the history of the French Revolution. Afterward, the event will relocate to the gymnasium where Upper Lake’s school band will treat attendees with music relating to the French Revolution and its time period. After the entertainment, the awards ceremony will begin.

Bronze, silver and gold medals will be awarded in most of the categories, as well as trophies, Totorica reported. The testing and awards are based from three levels of academic excellence – honors, scholastic and varsity.

Nancy Harby has coached Lower Lake’s decathlon team for 11 years and never tires of witnessing the positive impact that the event has on the student participants.

“No matter what happens I am so proud of them for balancing multiple academic subjects at the college level,” said Harby. “As far as my experience, almost all of the decathletes go on to college after high school.”

This year, Lower Lake has assembled two eight-person decathlon teams since more than nine students, the normal size of a decathlon team, signed up for the event.

Upper Lake High School, this year's host, produced last year’s championship team, which went on to compete at the state level.

Upper Lake’s coach, Anna Sabalone, and Middletown’s coach, Ryan Callen, are both in their second year of coaching in the Academic Decathlon.

The competition will be as fierce as ever, especially since Middletown High School has now established a dedicated course to prepare its students for the event, just like the other Lake County schools have done in the past, Callen said.

“Last year’s course was more or less a learning process,” said Callen. “But this year, anything can happen.”

Sabalone has been a part of the Academic Decathlon ever since she participated her senior year at Upper Lake High School during the 1999-2000 season.

“It was almost surreal seeing it from the other side. But, it is also great seeing how the kids grew from last year,” said Sabalone. “They seem a lot more comfortable with the format.”

Upper Lake High School is planning a field trip for its decathletes regardless if they make it to state or not, said Sabalone.

At Saturday's Super Quiz competition refreshments will be available for sale, with the proceeds going to help fund Upper Lake's field trip – possibly to a musical or play in San Francisco.

When the Academic Decathlon started in Lake County, five high schools took part, Totorica said. However, this year only Upper Lake, Middletown and Lower Lake high schools have assembled decathlete teams.

Kelseyville stopped participating after the 2004-05 decathlon season and last year was Clear Lake High School’s final participation, said Totorica. Lake County News was unable to contact Clear Lake High officials about the reason for not taking part.

“I would love for all of the schools to participate,” said Totorica. “But, perhaps due to funding issues, this year we only have three.”

Geck said that participating in the competition takes resources – whether money or time.

“This spring we will have to decide as a community what we want to see survive – we are in survival mode,” said Geck. “I think schools will end up having to look at the academic programs that they alone can provide.”

All high school decathletes can expect to gain much more than mere medals. Some of the core values encouraged by the United States Academic Decathlon Association include multidisciplinary learning, high standards of honesty and integrity, and a respect for diverse points of view.

The student participants and teams are:

  • Lower Lake High School, Team 1: Justin Harrison (H), Elizabeth Perkins (H), Alyssa McCosker (H), Joe Riggs (S), Corey Cherrington (S), Victoria Hanners (S), Kenneth Cates (V), Spence Hadden (V), Carina Ruedas (V); alternate includes Stephen Whitcomb.

  • Lower Lake High School, Team 2: Teodora Toshich (H), Bianey Madrigal (H), Cesar Ruiz (H), Sean Grant (S), Carla Martinez (S), Leslie Sweeden (S), Gerald Skinner (V), Samantha Weatherly (V), Shawn McAlister (V).

  • Middletown High School: Nick Speridon III (H), Seamus O’Herlihy (H), Jolon Cisneros (H), Donald Albright (S), Terry Marley (S), Haley Tallman (V), Melinda Dixon (V) Nicole Lawrence (V), Julia Rebolledo (V); alternate includes Breeann McKnight.

  • Upper Lake High School: Courtney Havrilla (H), Laura Wold (H), Justine Moran (H), Ian Weber (S), Roy Hankins (S), Devin Hoyt (S), Ben Mullin (V), Tiffany Criss (V), Cameron Beighle (V); alternates include Yessica Ayala, Jose Ruiz Olguin, Megan Morgan and Sean Gay.

Saturday's Super Quiz will last until about 7 p.m., said Sabalone.

Winners can expect to participate in the statewide competition beginning on March 12, and if they make it to nationals, the competition begins on April 17, said Totorica.

E-mail Tera deVroede at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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