Canyon High School takes the Orange County Academic Decathlon championship

OCADCanyon High School in the Orange Unified School District has earned top honors in this year’s Orange County Academic Decathlon.

With 50,675.50 total points, the Canyon squad was announced as the Overall Team Winner by the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association and OCDE on Tuesday night, drawing a round of uproarious applause in front of a packed crowd at Santa Ana High School’s Bill Medley Auditorium. Along with a plaque and scores of individual medals, the school picked up a $3,000 travel stipend to take on the best teams from 38 counties at the California Academic Decathlon in March.

And Canyon High isn’t the only local school that punched its ticket to the state contest.

By earning team scores that were among the highest in California, Valencia High School in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Woodbridge High in the Irvine Unified School District and Westminster High in the Huntington Beach Union High School District also received invitations to compete at the state level. (Westminster was last year’s champion.)

Here’s a breakdown of this year’s winning Orange County teams by division:

DIVISION 1

  • 1st Place: Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District    
  • 2nd Place: Valencia High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District  
  • 3rd Place: Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District
  • 4th Place: Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
  • 5th Place: Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District

DIVISION 2

  • 1st Place: Fountain Valley High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
  • 2nd Place: Esperanza High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • 3rd Place: Corona del Mar High School, Newport-Mesa Unified School District
  • 4th Place: Sonora High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • 5th Place: El Dorado High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District

DIVISION 3

  • 1st Place: Cornelia Connelly School, Private School
  • 2nd Place: Foothill High School, Tustin Unified School District       
  • 3rd Place: Yorba Linda High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
  • 4th Place: Santiago High School, Garden Grove Unified School District  
  • 5th Place: Saddleback High School, Santa Ana Unified School District

Organized at the county, state and local levels, Academic Decathlons are scholastic contests in which nine-member teams battle for the highest scores on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews and essay assignments. Each team must include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below). Each 10-event contest culminates with the popular Super Quiz Relay, which is held in front of a live audience. (You can learn more on the OCDE’s Academic Decathlon 101 webpage.)

Kristin Rigby, an OCDE program specialist of academic events, told us that Canyon High just rejoined the Orange County Academic Decathlon last year after a lengthy hiatus. The team is coached by teacher Khoa Dao, a former decathlete from Westminster High School, which advanced to the state competition when he participated.

The Orange County Academic Decathlon program is sponsored by the nonprofit Orange County Academic Decathlon Association and administered by OCDE. It’s also supported by the generous donations of community members and sponsors, including NuVision Federal Credit Union, C2 Education, Del Taco LLC, the Orange County Register, Learning.com, Aeries Software, Inc. and Teacher Created Materials.

In the news: The 2016 Orange County Academic Decathlon concludes with a flourish

SuperQuiz5.jpgIn case you missed it, the Orange County Register published a fun recap — with nearly a dozen pictures — of Saturday’s Super Quiz Relay, which was the final event of this year’s Orange County Academic Decathlon.

You can find the newspaper’s online coverage here, and be sure to click on the accompanying photo slideshow.

Academic Decathlons are 10-event scholastic contests staged at the county, state and national levels, each culminating with the Super Quiz Relay, which is held in front of a live audience.

Next up, we learn which students and schools were the big winners. The 2016 OCAD Awards Ceremony is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Santa Ana High School.

OCDE in 30 Seconds: We break down the Orange County Academic Decathlon in half a minute


What is the Orange County Academic Decathlon? Well, if you’ve got 30 seconds, we’ll tell you.

“OCDE in 30 Seconds” is a new feature that asks — or challenges — a staff member to describe an Orange County Department of Education program or service in less than half a minute.

For the video above, we reached out to Kristin Rigby, a program specialist in charge of academic events, to talk about the OC Academic Decathlon, which happens to be timely. The 10-event scholastic competition wraps up this Saturday with the always-entertaining Super Quiz Relay.

If you want to learn more about the Decathlon, you can check out this recent story from the OCDE Newsroom or visit the OCAD webpage.


Is there an OCDE program or service you’d like to see explained in 30 seconds? Send us a request at communications@ocde.us.

OC high schools, students shine at the 36th annual California Academic Decathlon

CAADStudents from five Orange County high schools collected a bounty of plaques, medals and trophies at the 36th annual California Academic Decathlon.

In all, hundreds of young scholars from 66 campuses competed in the state contest, which was held March 19 through March 22 in Sacramento. Woodbridge High School was the top performer locally, finishing eighth overall with 50924.7 points.

WoodbridgeHS
Woodbridge High School finished eighth overall at the California Academic Decathlon with 50924.7 points.

“Our team was matched up against some incredibly talented schools and students,” Woodbridge co-coach Shan Wu told the Newsroom, “but the students represented themselves and Woodbridge with pride with our top-10 finish.”

Marking a first in the 47-year history of Orange County, five local schools advanced to the California Academic Decathlon, led by the championship squad from Westminster High. Along with Woodbridge, Valencia High in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Trabuco Hills High in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and La Quinta High in the Garden Grove Unified School District also made the trip.

Valencia of Placentia took second place in Division 2 of the state contest with 48175.9 points, while Trabuco Hills of Mission Viejo placed third in Division 3 with 43462.8 points. And 19 students from all five OC schools earned first-, second- or third-place honors in scores of subjects, categories and divisions. (You can access a complete list of winners here.)

For the uninitiated, Academic Decathlons are 10-event scholastic contests staged at the county, state and national levels. Nine-member teams compete for the highest scores on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews and essay assignments.

Each team must include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below). The event culminates with the fast-paced and crowd-favorite Super Quiz Relay, which is held in front of a live audience. Among the Division 3 winners, Trabuco Hills High finished second in the Super Quiz and the team from La Quinta High in Westminster tied for third.

In case you were wondering, Granada Hills Charter High won this year’s Division 1 state title, and El Camino Real Charter High School took second overall, reversing last year’s finish. Both schools now head to the 34th annual U.S. Academic Decathlon to represent California, which has produced the last dozen national champions.

Westminster High leads a pack of five OC schools headed to the California Academic Decathlon

WestminsterPM

Marking a first in the 47-year history of the Orange County Academic Decathlon, five O.C. schools have been selected to advance to the state decathlon in Sacramento.

Cheers rang out in a packed Orange Coast College auditorium on the night of Feb. 17 as perennial powerhouse Westminster High was named the overall team winner with 50,981.8 points. Along with a special plaque, individual medals and local bragging rights, the school will receive a $4,000 travel stipend from the Orange County Academic Decathlon Association, which joined OCDE in announcing this year’s winners.

Westminster has burnished its reputation as an OCAD dynasty in recent years, taking first place in 2010, 2011, 2013 and now 2015. But as we said, it won’t be the only O.C. school advancing to the next round.

Woodbridge High in the Irvine Unified School District, Valencia High in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District, Trabuco Hills High in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District and La Quinta High in the Garden Grove Unified School District also punched their tickets to the California Academic Decathlon in March after posting some of the highest team scores in the state.

Here’s a list of all of this year’s winning Orange County teams by division:

DIVISION 1

1st Place: Westminster High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District
2nd Place: Woodbridge High School, Irvine Unified School District
3rd Place: Valencia High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
4th Place: Trabuco Hills High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
5th Place: La Quinta High School, Garden Grove Unified School District

DIVISION 2

1st Place: Servite High School, Private School, Anaheim
2nd Place: Sonora High School, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
3rd Place: Esperanza High School, Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
4th Place: San Juan Hills High School, Capistrano Union School District
5th Place: Fountain Valley High School, Huntington Beach Union High School District

DIVISION 3

1st Place: Canyon High School, Orange Unified School District
2nd Place: El Toro High School, Saddleback Valley Unified School District
3rd Place: Pacifica High School, Garden Grove Unified School District
4th Place: Sunny Hills High School, Fullerton Joint High School District
5th Place: San Clemente High School, Capistrano Unified School District

Organized at the county, state and local levels, Academic Decathlons are 10-event scholastic contests with rules that are pretty consistent. Nine-member teams battle for the highest scores on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews and essay assignments. Each squad must include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below). Contests culminate with the fast-paced Super Quiz Relay, which is held in front of a live audience. (You can learn more on the OCDE’s Academic Decathlon 101 webpage.)

Kristin Rigby, an OCDE program specialist of academic events, said many students begin preparing for their Academic Decathlon roles in May or June of the previous year. The contests themselves may be intense, but the annual awards ceremony is all about celebration and camaraderie.

“There was definitely a buzz in the room,” Rigby said. “Especially when the kids get together and start winning medals, it’s joy and relief that all that hard work paid off. You can just see it in the kids’ faces.”

Academic Decathlon is all about teamwork, building 21st-century skills — and having fun

SuperQuiz4

They enter the gym dressed in matching outfits, some carrying pom-poms, others with painted faces. They look nervous and excited.

Students spend months preparing for this day. In fact, the average Orange County Academic Decathlon participant reports spending about 20 to 25 hours a week practicing.

Staged over two weekends in January and February, this year’s Decathlon drew 41 high schools and more than 500 students who competed as individuals and teams for top honors — and a chance to represent O.C. at the state-level contest.

The Decathlon once again included objective tests in the areas of art, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science. Decathletes also competed in essay writing, speech and interview.

Each area, with the exception of mathematics, focused on the 2015 theme: New Alternatives in Energy – Ingenuity and Innovation.

For students and parents, the most thrilling part of the competition is the Super Quiz Relay, a fast-paced team event that looks like a quiz show and sounds like a sporting event. It’s the only event open to the public, and this year the bleachers of Westminster High School gymnasium were full of cheering parents, teachers, coaches, teammates and classmates.

Founded in 1968 by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Orange County superintendent of schools, the Academic Decathlon has evolved into one of the nation’s top scholastic competitions, attracting thousands of students each year. In 33 years of national competition, California schools have placed first 21 times and second 13 times.

For 47 years, the Orange County program has remained dedicated to preserving the original goal of creating a competition that appeals to students from all academic levels. Each nine-member team includes three A students, three B students and three C students. Quite often, those C students benefit the most. For many, this is the first time they will be recognized and given medals for academic success.

The structure also encourages teams to develop their strengths and work together toward a common goal. Teammates hold each other to high expectations by creating tests and quizzes for each other, hosting competition scrimmages and dedicating time to practicing and analyzing each other’s prepared and impromptu speeches, as well as perfecting their personal interview techniques. Students who are stronger at one academic subject often tutor and coach their teammates.

Regardless of the medals they take home, all students come away having strengthened the essential 21st-century skills of teamwork, communication and problem-solving.

This year’s OCAD Awards Ceremony will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 in the Roger Moore Theater at Orange Coast College.