OCDE makes plans for virtual academic competitions

Like pretty much everything else, academic event season will look a little different this school year.

Even as campuses are inching closer to reopening for in-person instruction, there are still no clear timelines for resuming large events. So OCDE plans to embrace virtual formats for some of its more popular contests in 2020-21, including the Academic Decathlon, the Academic Pentathlon and the Spelling Bee.

Here’s a look at what we know so far.

Orange County Academic Decathlon and Academic Pentathlon

Students at the Academic Decathlon

High schoolers take part in the Super Quiz Relay portion of the 51st Orange County Academic Decathlon in February 2019.

Founded in Orange County in 1968, the Academic Decathlon is a 10-event scholastic contest staged at the county, state and national levels. Its younger sibling is the Academic Pentathlon, a five-event competition for grades six, seven and eight.

When schools closed in the spring, both contests went online. Organizers are now participating in a series of collaborative planning sessions with the California Academic Decathlon and other regional coordinators to develop consistent procedures for virtual events throughout the state. Competition details will likely be announced in the fall.

In the meantime, curriculum packages are on sale so teams can begin studying — this year’s theme is “The Cold War” — and participants are encouraged to get started as soon as possible. Additional information can be found at www.ocde.us/decathlon and www.ocde.us/pentathlon.

Orange County Spelling Bee

The Orange County Spelling Bee will once again determine which stellar speller represents Orange County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

We’re told the Scripps team is developing an online testing platform that will enable schools and districts to administer their tests remotely. Procedures for the Orange County Spelling Bee are also being worked out and will likely include another new testing tool from Scripps for local spelling bee sponsors.

More information will be posted in the coming months and www.ocde.us/spellingbee.