As many contemplate the outcome of the 49th Super Bowl this Sunday another type of contemplation is swirling around Oakdale High School as the AcaDec Team looks to the 35th Annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon.
The 2014-15 AcaDec team of 37 is in position of defending its undefeated title and winning the championship title for the 15th straight year.
This year’s event will be hosted Friday, Feb. 6 at Enochs High School and Saturday, Feb. 7 at Modesto High School. The ever popular Super Quiz and Awards Presentation is the only event open to the public, which will take place Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. with the awards ceremony following.
Hailed as the biggest academic event for local high schools, the decathlon is a two-day series of tests, speeches and interviews featuring this year’s theme, “New Alternatives In Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.”
The OHS team is composed of a nine-person Competing Team, as well as 28 alternates. All grade levels are represented.
The competing team is as follows: Honors (3.75 and above GPA): Taryn Lane, Michael Winters and Ashley Caron; Scholastic Team (3.0 to 3.74 GPA): Caitlin Golding, Amber Williams and Sarah Sorenson; Varsity Team (less than 3.0 GPA): Eva Galindo, Jared Medeiros and Connie Speer.
“Ashley and I are seniors, so it’s always been in the back of our mind that this is an Oakdale tradition,” Galindo said of the school’s winning streak.
The ‘tradition’ has been so longstanding, that the current team cannot recall a time when the school was not the championship team. A pressure even the most elite athlete would not want to take on. This team of scholastics, however, is both confident and comfortable in its ability without being cocky.
“It’s incredible to be able to do this,” Caron said, “because you want to live up to your predecessors. We don’t feel any different than we did last year. We’re just gearing up for a test.”
More than half of the competing team is returning from the previous year. The students shared they recognize the excitement and expectation the school and community have on their ability to maintain the streak.
“A lot of us are athletes too,” Sorenson said of the team, “but we take it just as serious as a sport.”
“AcaDec really becomes a family,” Medeiros added. “Because when you spend so much time with the same people, it’s like I understand you now.”
Careful as to not disclose too much information in the way of strategy or superstition, the group of nine did share the ‘streak’ of staying true to the ‘winning’ T-shirt style. They continue to wear the identical long sleeve mock turtleneck red shirt worn by the first winning AcaDec team in 2001.
“We just rock the mock turtleneck,” Caron said.
“The whole community of Oakdale is behind us so much,” Williams said, “we feel that. We don’t want to let them down.”
As for their coach Linda Dodge, the nine recognize their success and unity is in part due to her guidance and selflessness.
“She’s now in a way like a mother,” Williams stated. “She really knows each one of us and wants to see us do our best.”
“She goes above and beyond to assist the students,” Caron added of Dodge. “She looks out for you.”
As for the team and the maintaining of the streak, Galindo summed it up stating, “We’re confident in each other. We support each other. We trust each other and our methods.”
Co-Sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), Gallo Foundation and Mocse Credit Union, the decathlon promotes interschool competition in academics and is supported through contributions made by businesses and the community. According to SCOE Student Events Coordinator Cheryl Goulart, the goal of the decathlon is to stimulate intellectual growth and scholastic success.
“The competition is open to all students, not just the top achievers,” she said. “Our objective is to recognize student achievement and to emphasize the positive dimensions of education.”
Twelve local high schools are participating in this year’s event including: Beyer, Central Catholic, Ceres, Davis, Denair, Enochs, Gregori, Johansen, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson and Valley Charter.
This year’s winner will represent Stanislaus County at the California Academic Decathlon State Finals, March 19 – 22, 2015 in Sacramento.