By Mary Lynch
A team from Franklin High School in Highland Park has qualified to compete in Sacramento for the California state title in the Academic Decathlon, the nation’s premier scholastic competition for high school students.
The team, four seniors and four juniors, advanced to the state level on February 8, when they defeated 50 opposing teams to take fifth place in the 39th annual Academic Decathlon of the Los Angeles Unified School District. A finish in the top eight secures a spot in the statewide contest, scheduled for March 26 to 29.
Franklin Principal Regina Marquez-Martinez is already packing her bags for the trip. “This is my fifth year as principal and the fifth time the Academic Decathlon team has taken me to State,” said Marquez-Martinez. “I’m looking forward to seeing this group shine in Sacramento.”
The theme of this year’s competition is “In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness.” Team members accumulate points by making speeches, giving answers and writing essays on the theme in the fields of art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, social science and science. Team members then work in groups in the fast-paced “Super Quiz,” rapidly answering 14 questions covering all subject areas. The Super Quiz is the only part of the competition that is open to the public.
At the LAUSD city level, the Franklin team scored 45,045 points out of a possible 65,880 points. The top scorer, Bell Senior High School, scored 49,953. The schools in second, third and fourth place were, respectively, Ulysses S. Grant High School in the East-Central San Fernando Valley, John Marshall Senior High in the Los Feliz area and James A. Garfield Senior High in East L.A.
The three schools rounding out the top eight include Northridge Academy, Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills and Van Nuys High School.
Chances are good that an LAUSD team will earn the state title, because LAUSD schools hold the record for state wins in the Academic Decathlon, with 23 victories.
Last year’s Franklin team had a particularly strong showing, including first place in the LAUSD competition and sixth place at the state level. Last year’s team, however, had 10 members; this year’s team has only eight (six varsity and two junior varsity members). The smaller the team, the less collective brain power to draw on in the Super Quiz.
To make the state competition with a relatively small team is a testament to the academic prowess of the 2020 Franklin decathletes. “The students on this team continually amaze me, not only in their academic abilities, but in their adaptability, resourcefulness, innovation, resiliency and [other] skills,” said team coach, Egon Trujillo, who teaches Honors Biology and Honors Physiology at Franklin.
The winner at the state level will compete at the nationals in Anchorage, Alaska from April 30 to May 2.
NOTE: If you want to test yourself at the Decathlon level, there are five questions from the Super Quiz (with answers) in this month’s print edition of the Boulevard Sentinel.
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