After a “decade of dominance,” the Oakdale High School Aca Deca team found a way to top their prior accomplishments: they won again. The team now boasts 11 consecutive championships from the Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon.
The OHS team’s long championship run has meant that other teams from around the county really want to beat Oakdale and the OHS team knows it. Aca Deca coach Lissa Jones said that the team is a talented group and that their success is combined with modesty. They don’t take winning for granted.
“Everybody wants to gun for us and the kids do a great job of responding to that pressure,” said OHS Principal Mike Moore.
This year’s OHS team beat the second place team, Ceres High School, by nearly 10,000 points on Feb. 4-5 at Gregori High School in Modesto. There was less than 200 points that separated the second place team from the third place Central Catholic High School team.
“Every year you worry about the streak ending and having to respond to the question, ‘What happened?’” Coach Jones said, and added but then the students show what they can do and she wonders why she ever doubted.
Principal Moore said that because the OHS team has won for so many years, their classmates and the community have come to expect them to win.
“We joke, they’re like rock stars on campus,” he said.
Moore added that supporters brought signs to the Aca Deca awards ceremony like it was a sporting event and that it’s good for the kids to see that kind of support.
The OHS team also won the Super Quiz portion of the event, took the top awards in each division, had the top essay, and earned 109 medals. The Great Depression was this year’s theme for the event, but there was only jubilation from the Oakdale team as the continual eruption of cheers came from the stands when Oakdale team member names were announced as medal winners during the awards ceremony.
“It feels amazing, all the hard work finally paying off,” said Scholastic division winner, OHS junior Paul Perrone.
He added that he also met his goal of winning his division and that he’s looking forward to moving up into a new division next year. He also said that now the OHS team just needs to focus on the state competition.
“The stress is over. It was a long day but definitely worth it in the end,” said Varsity division winner, OHS senior Robert Anderson. “It’s pretty awesome, really. I kind of didn’t believe it at first, kind of in shock. But when you put in the time and the effort, I guess it pays off.”
At the contest, in the Honors division, senior Daniel Dunning captured the top division award as well as the top overall delegate award. Other Honors division members are seniors Kyle Ridenour and Alissa Kummer. Scholastic division members are Perrone, junior Nathan Van Ryn, and senior Ryan Gilpin. Varsity division members are Anderson, junior Thomas Roberts, and sophomore Andrew Gilpin.
While OHS sent a 42-member contingent to participate at the county contest, it is the nine-member competing team that will go on to state. Jones said that the hard part about preparing for the state competition is keeping everyone focused because it’s so intense. She said that this year’s team, which had four returning members, finished with about 700 more points than last year’s team. Last year’s OHS team had the school’s best finish at the state contest to date. Oakdale will represent Stanislaus County at the California Academic Decathlon State Finals, March 11 through 14 in Sacramento.
The Academic Decathlon is a two-day series of tests, speeches and interviews. Other high schools that competed at this year’s county event included Beyer, Central Valley, Davis, Denair, Enochs, Johansen, Keyes Charter, Modesto, Riverbank, Valley Charter and Waterford.
See the Feb. 16 issue of The Leader for the OHS team’s full Aca Deca results.