UPPER LAKE — Anna Sabalone’s schoolroom in Upper Lake High School is crowded with students of all ages for her daily Academic Decathlon class. She is affectionately known as “Sab” to her students They all study one topic, divided into 10 subtopics, for the school year in order to prepare for the local, regional and state competition.
According to https://academicdecathlon.org, “The California Academic Decathlon is a statewide non-profit organization that promotes an educational experience providing a format in which teams of nine high school students compete in academic events. All California public and private high schools are eligible to compete.”
The site notes that there are an estimated 500 high schools, approximately 13,000 students who participate annually in Academic Decathlon in California. The makeup of each of the nine-member teams must include three A students, three B students, and three C or below students.
Academic Decathletes take 30 minute multiple-choice tests in the subjects of art, economics, music, language and literature, mathematics, science, and social science. In addition, each team member gives a planned four-minute speech and a two-minute impromptu speech, participates in a seven-minute Interview, and has 50 minutes to write an expository essay.
The Super Quiz Relay, the final event, is open to the public and features questions from the same subject matters as the multiple-choice tests.
There were 15 teams participating in the Regional Competition. Upper Lake HS came in 6th out of the 15.
Awards were given to:
- Nobalie Snow, Gold Essay (perfect score), Silver Scholastic Freshman Overall Varsity
- Jasmine Haro, Bronze in the Varsity Essay
- Atlantis Jones, Gold in Interview, Bronze in Scholastic Sophomore Overall Achievement
- Sierra Manley, Silver in Interview
- Deejay Kalan, Gold in Speech (perfect score)
- Annalise Smith, Bronze in Scholastic Sophomore Overall Achievement
- Sierra Manley, Gold Varsity Sophomore Overall
- Georgia Schmit, Gold Scholastic Freshman Overall Achievement
Many students, like Marie Tinoco, 17, take “Deca” (as the students call the class), year after year. Tinoco has taken it for four years. This is her second year as team captain. This year’s topic (released in April), she said, is “In Health and Sickness.”
Sabalone said, “I am very proud of them. Especially with the unknown of what we walked into at our first regional. While we would have liked to place higher than sixth, it’s a great impetus to increase our performance for State in March. They are highly motivated for the rematch with the five other schools moving forward to state competition.”
The students continue to learn the same subject matters for the state competition.
The five other schools competing for State will be Casa Grande HS, (Sonoma County), American Canyon HS, (Napa County), Davis HS (Yolo County), Willits HS, (Mendocino County), Vanden HS, (Solano County).
Sabalone said she wonders why more schools in Lake County don’t participate in the academic decathlon, considering all the benefits to the students. She said she is completely dedicated to the decathlon. “I’m a product of the program,” she said, adding she first participated in it in 1997.
Some students were shy and soft-spoken. Award-winner Nobalie Snow, 15, said, “This class sounds like it is hard, but it’s all worth it. Going to State with other competitors, we’re all coming together to express what we’ve learned.”
Junior Captain, Deeya Kalan, 16, said that through the class, she’s developed how to visually, verbally and solitarily study to learn the intense subjects dealing with this year’s topic.
Evan Saldana, 14, said she learned a lot about cancer and its causes.
Annalise Smith, 15, said she takes the class “because I get a sense of courage and a rush from competing and being able to say ‘I did this!’”
Isabel Sanchez, 16, said Deca helps her with speeches, school presentations in front of large crowds. “When I was in eighth grade, I heard that Deca students have always gotten the jobs they wanted because of their interviewing skills. Every Deca student is well rounded,” she said, “It helps kids find their way.” She added that she is also involved with wrestling and volleyball.
Atlantis Jones, 16, said, “Deca is the only class that challenges me, the only thing that pushes me.” Sierra Manley also said, “I wanted to push myself.”
Jessica Lee, 17, has taken Deca for three years. “I learned how to study and it’s built my confidence.”
Jisel Horne, 16, agreed with Lee. “It’s required to learn to study and what works for you. All ULHS Deca kids end up going to college.”
There are three class presidents in the current Deca class, the students shouted out. Others told of how they’re involved with ‘mock trial’ classes, the FFA (Future Farmers of America), Northshore Fire Fighters Explorer Program, among other programs.
Edgar Garcia, 17, who is in the fire explorer program, which gives youth an idea of what it takes to be a professional firefighter, said his biggest take away from the class is team bonding. “I wanted to improve myself mentally. After high school, I want to go to a four-year college, which requires a lot of communication skills.”
The State team is divided into three groups; Varsity, which needs a GPA of 0-2.99, Scholastic GPA 3.0-3.74, Honors GPA 3.75-4 and above.
The State Team includes William Cromwell, Jisel Horne, Sierra Manley, Atlantis Jones, Deeya Kalan, Georgia Schmit, Annalise Smith, Maria Trinco and Noble Snow.
The State competition takes place in Sacramento, March 26 to 29. more information can be found at https://academicdecathlon.org
Captain Tinoco said, “Anyone can join Deca. The only thing you have to have is dedication.”
February 7, 2020 at 6:12 am