Academic Decathlon Participates in First Competition of the School Year


Sonia Wang

Academic Decathlon students gather in math teacher and club adviser Eric Graham’s room as he goes over the procedures for the online essay competition. Although the two JV members don’t take the essay, all nine varsity members compete.

Academic Decathlon started off the competitive season on Jan. 25 with an online essay writing competition on campus. Competition results will be announced on Feb. 10. 

The Academic Decathlon theme this year is the American Revolution, according to senior and club president Janice Jang. All nine competitors of the varsity team had 50 minutes to write the essay and could choose from prompts about literature, social science and science. 

Alongside resource guides for social science and science, the literature prompt focuses on the novel “Wieland” by Charles Brockden Brown, with the on-demand essay being closed-book.

“Most of it is the stylistic aspects of writing an essay,” Jang said. “Only some points come from the actual evidence from the study resources. So it’s more important that you know how to write an essay rather than the content or the topic that it’s on for the essay.”

During competition season, Academic Decathlon students complete seven objective multiple choice tests, two subjective performance events and an essay. The essay is the first event of the competition, with the others occuring at separate times after. The team met up every Wednesday before school leading up to the event to prepare for the competition, with the studying sessions helping first-year Academic Decathlon members such as sophomore Daeyong Kim practice a variety of new skills and bond with experienced members, according to Kim.

“I love interacting with the people in the Academic Decathlon team and also studying the variety of subjects,” Kim said. “I wasn’t really well prepared for the essay, but I think I did okay because I could recall information from past meetings.”

The team has three competing divisions, each consisting of three students placed according to their grade point average: Honor (3.80-4.0), Scholastic (3.20-3.79) and Varsity (0.0-3.19), according to California Academic Decathlon. Math teacher and club adviser Eric Graham said that he was proud of the commitment shown in all members, despite initial difficulties to find enough people for a full team.

“I’m proud that people are willing to make sacrifices for each other, as we had to recruit a lot of different kids that maybe didn’t have an interest,” Graham said. “To have students that are willing to sacrifice for the good of others was really inspiring. And I’m just proud of the team in general. I’m proud of the dedication and the work they’ve been putting in.”

According to Graham, the club intends on using this year’s competition season as experience, because the club is still relatively new to Academic Decathlon.