OC teams battle it out at the California Academic Decathlon

Orange County students at the California Academic Decathlon
Five Orange County teams competed at the California Academic Decathlon in Sacramento over the weekend. Irvine’s Woodbridge High, which won the last two county championships, finished 13th overall at the state contest, which was won by El Camino Real Charter High School.

El Camino Real Charter High School has won the 2018 California Academic Decathlon.

The Woodland Hills campus in the Los Angeles Unified School District finished first with 61,612.40 total points this weekend and is now headed to the U.S. Academic Decathlon, where it last won in 2014.

Woodbridge High School in Irvine, fielding a team dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” because it featured seven members instead of the traditional nine, finished 13th overall at the state-level contest after winning its second straight Orange County championship in February.

“The Magnificent Seven gave it their best in representing Orange County, which I am very proud,” Woodbridge Coach Mike Nakaue told the OCDE Newsroom.

“Finishing 13th out of 69 schools is a credit to these Woodbridge students who worked very hard for months all for an unknown,” Nakaue said. “They had the mindset of wanting to compete only against the best in the state. We hope to put a new team together next year that again qualifies for the state competition.”

This year saw a record five Orange County schools make it to the California decathlon, which drew approximately 600 students from nearly 70 high schools to the state capital on March 23 and March 24. 

Teams from Westminster High School in the Huntington Beach Union High School District, Trabuco Hills High School in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, Valencia High in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District and Irvine’s University High School were invited as wildcards after posting scores in the Orange County Academic Decathlon that ranked among the best in the state.

Westminster High finished just two spots below Woodbridge at 15th overall. In Division 2, University High placed sixth, Valencia High took eighth and Trabuco Hills High was 10th, according to official results posted Sunday. Individually, OC students also claimed an impressive 54 medals.

Powerhouse Granada Hills Charter High School, which had won six out of the last seven national championships — including the last three — finished a respectable second this time around. But the weekend belonged to El Camino Real, which will compete at the U.S. Academic Decathlon championships April 19 through April 21 in Frisco, Texas.

This marks the 50th year of the Academic Decathlon, created by former Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Peterson.

Student teams compete for the highest scores on multiple-choice exams, speeches, interviews, essay assignments and the Super Quiz Relay, a gameshow-style event that takes place in front of a live audience.

Academic Decathlons are staged at the local, county, state and national levels with nine-member student teams. Each squad is to include three “Honor” students (those with GPAs of 3.75 or above), three “Scholastic” students (GPAs of 3.00 to 3.74) and three “Varsity” students (GPAs of 2.99 or below).

The theme of this year’s academic decathlon contests was “Africa.”