Academic event season has arrived. Here are some important dates in 2023.

A student on an Academic decathlon team holds up two numbers indicating his team answered a question correctly

A new year is upon us, and that means we’ve officially entered academic event season.  

Over the next six months, there will be scores of opportunities for students to test their knowledge and sharpen their skills in history, science, math, reading, writing, robotics and other subjects — all while forging lasting memories and friendships.

Here’s our annual rundown of some of the standards-based contests and events that OCDE and Orange County schools will take part in from now through June.

January 28

Woodbridge High's Academic Decathlon team
Irvine’s Woodbridge High School earned top honors at last year’s Orange County Academic Decathlon and went on to place third at the California Academic Decathlon.

Orange County Academic Decathlon, Day One. Founded by former Orange County Superintendent Dr. Robert Peterson in 1968, the Academic Decathlon is a 10-event scholastic contest staged at the county, state and national levels. Participants will kick off the communications portion of the event by presenting prepared and impromptu speeches and participating in personal interviews.

February 4

Orange County Academic Decathlon, Day Two. Decathletes will take 30-minute tests in the subject areas of art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science. This second day of this competition also features the Super Quiz Relay, a high-energy contest that feels like a sporting event.

February 4, 11 and 18

Orange County Robotics Consortium (OCRC) Competitions. OCDE is partnering with local school districts to hold the OCRC Orange County Classic, an invitational tournament, at Crescent Elementary School in Anaheim on Feb. 4. A competition open to all teams will be held at Vista Heritage Global Academy on Feb. 11, and another invitational tournament will take place at Olinda Elementary School on Feb. 18. In each contest, student-made robots rack up points by showcasing a number of skills, some with their creators at the controls and others as autonomous machines with limited human interaction.

February 25

SoCal Joint Regional Science Olympiad Competition. Science Olympiads are like academic track meets, with a series of STEM-related team events connected to disciplines including biology, Earth science, chemistry, physics, astronomy and engineering. With the support of the UC Irvine School of Physical Sciences, the event will return as an in-person competition this year.  Top performers go on to compete at the state level.

February 27

Orange County Spelling Bee, written round. This first round includes the winners of school and district spelling bees throughout Orange County. The event will take place at OCDE, where students will write spelling words and answer vocabulary questions, which are also part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The top spellers from the written round advance to the final round the following Saturday.

March 4

Spelling bee champion
Jason Khan of McAuliffe Middle School in Los Alamitos won the Orange County Spelling Bee in 2022.

Orange County Spelling Bee, final round. One by one, students take turns stepping up to the podium to spell their given words over the course of several rounds. A winner is announced when all but one have been eliminated. The top speller will go on to represent Orange County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

March 10 and 11

National History Day-Orange County. This countywide competition will take place at OCDE’s Costa Mesa campus. National History Day draws about 600,000 U.S. participants each year with contests at the district, county, state and national levels. Working individually or in teams, students in grades four through 12 conduct extensive research and develop elaborate projects, including original websites, papers, documentaries, podcasts, performances and exhibits. The 2022-23 theme is “Frontiers in History: People, Places, Ideas.”

March 11 through 26

California Academic Decathlon. The winning teams from the Orange County Academic Decathlon will be joined by elite squads from other counties at this state-level competition. The 2023 competition will be held in Santa Clara.

April 22 and 29

Orange County Academic Pentathlon for grades seven and eight. The Academic Pentathlon is a five-event competition for grades six, seven and eight. Under the guidance of their coaches, middle school teams tackle the fine arts, literature, math, science and social science and compete in their own Super Quiz Relay.

April 29 

Orange County Regional Elementary Science Olympiad. This competition for grades four, five and six includes such events as “Deep Blue Sea,” “Starry Starry Night” and “Disease Detectives.” Students will participate in-person at Sierra Vista Elementary School in Irvine.

March 31 through April 3

Gallaudet University’s Battle of the Books. Sponsored by Gallaudet University, this contest was created in 2012 to boost literacy, encourage critical thinking and promote sportsmanship for middle schoolers who are deaf and hard of hearing. The finals are typically in the spring, following local preliminary rounds in November and playoffs in December.

April 27 through 29

United States Academic Decathlon. For Academic Decathlon competitors who advance beyond the state level, the national championships will be held in Frisco, Texas following a series of online tests earlier in the month.

April 22 and May 6

Orange County Academic Pentathlon for grade six. This time it will be teams of sixth-graders competing in the Academic Pentathlon, which will include a Super Quiz Relay event on May 6.

April 15 and 16

National History Day-California. This competition, which will be held at California State University, Sacramento, is open to county NHD champions in grades four through 12.

June 11 through 15

The National History Day National Contest. Just as county level winners move on to state competitions, the state-level NHD winners advance to the national finals, which is typically held in June at the University of Maryland, College Park.