Academic Decathlon At LACOE


Emmaline Pan, Staff Writer

Among the many things Arcadia High School (AHS) is known for, its academic teams, ranging from the Math Team to Destination Imagination, stand out as among the best. At the Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon (LACOE), on Jan. 28, Feb. 1, and Feb. 4, the AHS Academic Decathlon team proved that they are no exception. With a team of six members, the team was able to walk away with an impressive total of 17 medals. 

On Feb. 23, awards were announced at a luncheon and ceremony for all the participants. Ma won gold medals in Math, Essay, and Interview, a silver medal in Social Science, and a bronze medal in Music. Kumar won silver in Music, Science, and Interview, and bronze in Math and Essay. Junior Sophia Li won gold medals in Speech, Interview, and Essay; junior Veronica Meyers won silver in Speech and bronze in Interview; and junior Adrian Pun won gold in Social Science and silver in Interview.

Academic Decathlon is a competition, where high school students with ranging levels of academic achievement, compete in 10 different subjects. These topics, which include art, economics, social science, speech, language and literature, math, music, interview, science, and essay, are designed to stimulate student’s analytical thinking, memorization, writing ability, and public speaking skills. 

Leading up to LACOE, the Arcadia Decathletes prepared for months, studying small chunks of each subject. Most preparation was geared towards memorization for the multiple choice tests. Competitor sophomore Max Ma recalled his individual process. 

“Personally, I took notes and read the resource guides, as well as searched for more information on the internet to support my understanding of the concepts,” said Ma.

The competition took place over the course of three days. On Jan. 28, decathletes participated in the speech and interview portion of the event. 

Ma considered these sections to be his favorite. “Besides being a completely separate competition from the other events, [speech and interview] are unique because they don’t just require memorization or application of the information in resource guides,” he explained.

“It’s a time to tell your own personal stories or educate an audience about a specific issue. The infinite creative opportunities that are possible in these events allowed me to enjoy them,” Ma continued. “The atmosphere of the competition site is also incredible; you can witness people preparing for their speeches and the overall team spirit is high energy.”

Following the interview and speech day, the decathletes participated in the essay section of the competition on Feb. 1. The majority of the competition was held on Feb. 4, where the multiple choice tests for the remaining seven subjects were given. 

Decathlete sophomore Avik Kumar highlighted how his prior knowledge from school proved useful in the competition. “I have taken Chemistry Honors in my freshman year, and am currently taking AP Chemistry. With such prior knowledge, I found it much easier to study for the subject. As a result, during the competition, I felt rather confident in this section,” he said.

Kumar reflected upon his personal performance. “I’m especially proud of my score in Music, as it was something I was not expecting to score high in, [I] but won a silver medal in [it] anyway.” 

Unfortunately, despite all the team members’ individual success, the team was unable to qualify for State level tournaments. This was because the team currently only has six members, placing them at a disadvantage to teams with the maximum nine. 

Kumar believes that the recruitment of a more academically diverse group of students could be a potential key to future success. “Our team does not have enough varsity (3.199>GPA) members, leading to a low team overall score. I hope that in the future, we are able to recruit more of these varsity members, who are anything but frivolous to our team,” he said.

Congratulations to Academic Decathlon for another outstanding season!


Photo courtesy of AHS Academic Decathlon