Four middle school teams advance to the United States Academic Pentathlon

2024 Orange County Academic Pentathlon

Four local middle school teams are gearing up to represent the region at the upcoming United States Academic Pentathlon competition in Phoenix, Arizona on May 16. 

These students, fueled by nine months of dedicated study and camaraderie, will showcase their talents on the national stage in about a week at the national five-event scholastic competition. Under the theme of “Technology and Humanity,” these pentathletes have delved into a rigorous curriculum, focusing their skills in five key academic disciplines: fine arts, literature, mathematics, science and social sciences. 

In April and May, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students participated in the Orange County Academic Pentathlon, facilitated by the Orange County Department of Education and sponsored by SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, at Westminster and University high schools. The program strives to foster a greater respect for knowledge, promote healthy inter-school academic competition and further develop student communication skills.

Based on their overall scores in the top division, eighth-graders from Fairmont Private Schools’ Historic Anaheim Campus and Lakeside Middle School in the Irvine Unified School District will be advancing to the national competition.

Also representing Orange County in Phoenix will be the seventh-grade teams from Fairmont Private Schools in Anaheim and Legacy Magnet Academy in the Tustin Unified School District.

“This year’s overall theme for Pentathlon was ‘Technology and Humanity,’ and the science curriculum had students learning about neuroscience and its technological applications,” Kristin Rigby, OCDE’s coordinator of academic events and recognition programs, said. “While it’s impressive to see high school decathletes tackling neuroscience, what truly thrills me is witnessing sixth-graders engaging with such advanced topics at such an early stage in their education.” 

Academic pentathlon teams consist of students in three different grade-point average categories: Honor (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), Scholastic (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and Varsity (GPAs of 2.99 or below). These categories ensure all students have an opportunity to compete.

Beatty Middle School excels

Beatty Middle School at OC Academic Pentathlon
(Photo courtesy of Principal Joaquin Valdez)

The county Pentathlon provided opportunities for teams of sixth-graders across three divisions to participate. Beatty Middle School, representing the Buena Park School District, entered two teams, securing first and second place in Division 1.

“It’s so fun to see them working together to select their answers during the Super Quiz and to see them cheering for each other so enthusiastically as medals are announced during the awards ceremony,” said Rigby. “It’s truly heartwarming to see the students high-fiving each other as they work together and recognize each other’s achievements.”

Though these pentathletes will not be advancing to the national stage, their experience in academic competition promises to fuel their aspirations for next year’s matches.

For more information on how to start an academic decathlon or pentathlon program at your school, contact Kristin Rigby, OCDE coordinator of academic events and recognition programs, at 714-966-4435 or