Saturday, February 02, 2008

Academic Decathlon

I am always amazed at how much I enjoy this particular event. Teams compete in 10 subjects, present impromptu speeches and are interviewed by a panel of judges. What is a lot of fun to watch is what they call the "Super Quiz" - the students have seven seconds to answer a series of questions - this year on the topic of The Civil War.

The Awards Ceremony is fun to watch.
Congratulations Granite Hills High School, Team A - for winning the event and earning the honor of representing Tulare County at State.

photo by Esther Avila from the 2007
Academic decathlon at Porterville College

For the Porterville Recorder

VISALIA — It was more about having fun than scoring big Saturday for Granite Hills High School as they captured the overall scoring trophy at the 2008 Tulare County Academic Decathlon at College of the Sequoias in Visalia. Before a packed theater, Granite Hill students laughed, cheered, and formed a line across the stage, kicking up their legs in a New York Radio City Music Hall “Rockettes” kick before taking a simultaneous bow – evidence to the fun the team was enjoying with their win.

“It never gets old,” said GHHS team coach Mark Harriger. “It is always fun and that is what drives all of us. The kids remember the fun of winning and they come after school – faithfully – to study. They like each other, plus they work hard.”

Harriger’s daughter, Karen, walked away with the top-scoring individual plaques in Language-Literature, Music, Science, and Art. Tracey Harriger captured the individual high-scoring plaque in economics and speech, while teammate Jennifer Spangler took home the Math plaque.

Watching from the audience and not a part of the team for the first time in years was Lorraine Harriger who graduated last year from GHHS.

“It was still excited for them, for all of them,” said Lorraine Harriger. “I was here to support them all. They worked so hard and I wanted to see it culminate.”

High School teams from throughout Tulare County competed for two days in ten subjects: economics, mathematics, music, art, language and literature, science, prepared and impromptu speeches, and a written essay. In addition they were interviewed by a panel of judges.

The “Super Quiz” – with this year’s theme being the Civil War – was held at the COS gymnasium and opened to the public.

And for the first time in years, the California Academic Decathlon Foundation awarded scholarships. Two local students were nominated and both received the scholarships – Daniel Hensley and Ivan Portillo, both from GHHS.

By the end of the day, GHHS, Team A, had racked up 38,419 points – earning the privilege to represent Tulare County in March at the state competition in Sacramento.

“If they can raise that score to about 40,000 points, they have a really good chance at State,” said Carmen Friesen, county coordinator of the event.

Awards at the State level will be awarded by members of the State Legislature. Maria Shriver, First Lady of California, will present the overall trophy.

Granite Hills High School, represented by two teams, also walked away with more than 45 bronze, silver, and gold medals, seven plaques, and four individual trophies, a team trophy, and the large –school trophy.

Walking away with more than 20 medals and the overall-small-school trophy was Lindsay High School who scored 28,682 points.

“I’m always proud of my students. We have won [overall] Small-School [honors] for four out of the past five years,” said LHS academic coach Brett Pierrote.

Monache High, Porterville High, and Strathmore High all shined – winning more than 65 medals. In addition, Monache captured one individual trophy, Strathmore, two plaques, and Porterville High, two plaques.

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