Weekly roundup: KTLA spotlights Academic Decathlon champs, Sowers Middle School gets a new campus, and more

Reporter interviewing students

KTLA 5 Morning News reporter Megan Telles was live in Irvine on Wednesday morning to help Woodbridge High School celebrate its latest Academic Decathlon victory. 

The visit was part of KTLA’s School Spirit Spotlight series, showcasing the achievements of Southern California’s students and educators.

Woodbridge has no shortage of success stories to share. In fact, the high-performing Irvine Unified School District campus recently secured its seventh championship in eight years at the Orange County Academic Decathlon, which was held over two Saturdays on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3.

Earlier on the morning of Feb. 21, Telles paid tribute to the school’s theater department, which is putting on a production of “The Wizard of Oz.” During her second live spot in the 10 o’clock hour, she was serenaded by the WHS marching band and energized by school cheerleaders as she interviewed Academic Decathlon students and coaches.

Woodbridge High Academic Decathlon team
County champs: Woodbridge High School will compete next month in the California Academic Decathlon

“This is all extracurricular,” coach Sam Lee told the reporter, “so [the students] come in and put in hundreds of hours to give themselves that competitive edge, including breaks and holidays. … They choose to be here to compete.”

Telles then had Academic Decathlon team members pose questions to KTLA’s in-studio anchors to see if they would be able to qualify for the highly competitive squad. 

Woodbridge High’s decathletes won’t have too much time to revel in their county victory. They’re already prepping for the state competition that will take place in Santa Clara March 21 to March 24.

Joining the Warriors will be local teams from University, Valencia and Westminster high schools that qualified based on their high scores.

The U.S. Academic Decathlon will be held April 25 to 27 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This year’s theme is “Technology and Humanity.”

And these are some of the other stories we’ve been tracking this week:

  • The Huntington Beach City School District recently unveiled a new $72 million campus for Sowers Middle School, providing more than 750 students with modern classrooms equipped with updated technology. A second phase of construction is expected to be completed early next year.

  • OCDE’s new administrators of artificial intelligence and innovation say their work isn’t so much about teaching others to use a new technology as it is helping to advance a cultural shift in how educators perceive and integrate AI into their pedagogy.

  • Brea Olinda teachers and school district leaders have reached an impasse in salary negotiations, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

Irvine’s University High School won this year’s Orange County Mock Trial.
  • Showcasing their legal acumen and public speaking skills, students from University High School in Irvine have won the Orange County Mock Trial competition and will participate in next month’s California Mock Trial Finals. 

  • The Orange Unified School District has agreed to rent a portion of a shuttered campus to Orange County Classical Academy, a charter school, starting with an annual rate of $275,000.

  • A Los Alamitos High sophomore is heading to Miami to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials for sailing. He’s got a chance to make the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but he really has his sights set on Los Angeles in 2028.

  • Eight school counselors and two counseling advocates were honored at the 2024 Orange County Counselor Symposium. Organized by OCDE, the Feb. 7 event highlighted the unique contributions of counselors along with best approaches for guiding students toward greater academic, social-emotional and career-minded growth.

  • And finally, embracing the theme “Shamrock and Roll,” the Newport Mesa Spirit Run will mark its 40th anniversary when it returns to Fashion Island on March 17. Funds raised will benefit schools in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, the Newport Beach Junior Lifeguards, youth sports programs, CASA of Orange County and ALS Hope for Peggy Fort.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroom, subscribing for emailed updates and following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.