On Sat., Feb. 3, WHS’s Academic Decathlon team put a year of learning to the test at the Ventura County AcaDeca Competition.
WHS’s A team placed third overall. Calabasas High School placed first overall, preserving their record as the reigning champions, and La Reina placed second overall.
A team students placed in the top three in various events, resulting in 11 individual awards for the A team. B team students earned 23 individual awards.
Despite a third place finish, WHS’s A team was selected as a wild card to advance to the state competition March 23-24 in Sacramento.
“I’m very pleased with how we did,” said AcaDeca coach Joseph Nigro. “It’s always an honor to be invited to participate at the state level.”
The students on the A team competing at state are a mix of juniors and seniors: Katia Arami ‘18, Saralynn Chick ‘18, Milla Wu ‘19, Victoria Barrios ‘18, Tristan Bowman ‘18, Boyan Hu ‘18, Matt Brucell ‘18, Leon Mallillin ‘18 and Elliot Taylor ‘18.
From state, the top California team will advance to the national competition. Teams from Ventura County have qualified for nationals six times.
“Our team has a really good chance at placing very high in our division,” said AcaDeca co-president Arami. “We plan on bringing back several awards.”
The team is ranked third in its division, and only 200 points away from ranking first in the division. WHS has never won first in the division before.
Being 200 points behind, the A team has been preparing non-stop: going over numerous quizlets and practicing speech giving and interview skills.
AcaDeca is a competitive class designed to give all students an unique opportunity to learn and compete against other students.
“Each year we get a theme; this year’s was Africa,” said Connor Chatfield ‘19. “The science, history, music, etc. are all then focused around this theme.”
History focused on African history throughout time from early human history up until modern history. Music included sounds and traditions of each region of the continent. This year, the science portion focused around disease and viruses, and their spread through the continent.
“Science was my favorite unit this year,” said Hu. “We studied all the different element and how these diseases and viruses work, the different cycles of infection, people who discovered cures and published studies.”
The way Acadeca is structured gives students of all backgrounds and areas the opportunity to explore these unique subjects.
“A common misunderstanding about AcaDeca is that it is only for straight A students, but it is actually for students of all academic backgrounds,” said Nigro. “We particularly need students with B-averages and C-averages and below who are interested in learning about subjects that they may not otherwise encounter in a traditional high school classroom.”