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Academic Decathlon Team Prepares For Weekend Event
Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon competing team members have closed their books and are ready to compete in the annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon at Johansen High School this Saturday, Feb. 1. Photographed are: Honors team, Cael Black, Cesar Garcia Santana and Johanna Fabian; Scholastic team, Tayler Downing, Alana Casey and Caroline Krum; and Varsity team, John Creech, Daphnie Rushing and Lance Bryant. Teresa Hammond/The Leader

Late night study sessions, Saturdays spent on campus and a semester dedicated to seventh period studies will now be put to the test as Oakdale High School sends a team to compete in the 40th Annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon this Saturday, Feb. 1.

The annual event will be hosted at Johansen High School in Modesto. The OHS competing team, as well as alternates, will begin test taking in the varying categories early that morning. The ever popular Super Quiz, which is open to the public, will begin at 1:20 p.m. and will be followed shortly thereafter by the presentation of individual and team awards.

While Oakdale High did not return with the coveted first place trophy last year, they did clinch the bragging rights of 2019 Super Quiz winner. This year, the team will take over 25 students comprised of the nine competing team members, as well as alternates, to the county competition.

Competing team members are: Honors (3.75-4.00 GPA) - Cael Black, Cesar Garcia Santana and Johanna Fabian; Scholastic (3.00-3.74) - Tayler Downing, Alana Casey and Caroline Krum and Varsity (0.0- 2.99 GPA) - John Creech, Daphnie Rushing and Lance Bryant.

Of the nine member team, six are new to the competing floor, and three of them are freshmen. The three freshmen shared they first became interested in the team when Aca Dec students visited their classrooms at Oakdale Junior High in their eighth grade year.

“When I saw that on the ballot, I thought it would just be a new way to learn new information,” Alana Casey stated of signing up to participate.

And “learn new information” they have done, as they have had to delve into varying categories of study under this year’s theme of “In Sickness and In Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness.”

The team described the year’s theme as more focused on death and mortality, studying a number of different diseases as well as the plague. While that’s a topic which may make some uncomfortable, for Tayler Downing it has been just the opposite.

“This has really helped expose myself to the medical field and what it entails,” the OHS senior said, noting that she has long had aspirations of exploring the medical field and the positive impact the current year theme has had on this decision.

Tayler is one of three seniors on the competing team, almost serving as a counter balance to the freshman youth. Two of the three returning seniors were part of the competing team last year. For Cael Black, while he is not new to the team experience, he is new to the competing chair.

“Definitely a lot more pressure,” Cael shared. “It’s become a larger part of my life than I thought it would. I thought I’d really be able to balance it but it’s consumed my priorities.”

Veteran team member John Creech explains it’s like an adult doing night school. He gets his homework and studies done during the day and then studies aca dec material at night.

“I think we’ve done pretty well as a team to study for this,” John said.

The team members shared that while the pressure to win continues to exist, it’s not as poignant as it once was during the “streak” years. Oakdale High school remains the high school that has won the championship title more consecutive years than any other high school in Stanislaus County.

“It’s definitely a lot less than last year though. Now that we’ve lost a couple of times, people don’t expect us to get first anymore,” Caroline said of the pressure.

The competing team spoke of each trio and how they work together, a fact which the team has learned the importance of over the past few years of transition and change.

“I feel very confident in our abilities as the Honors team,” Cael said.

“Our team is very tight. We are open minded to one another’s answers,” Caroline echoed of the Scholastic team. “We flow smoothly, because we’re all really united.”

The winner of the 40th Annual Stanislaus County event will represent the county at the state finals on March 27 and March 28 in Sacramento.