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Oakdale High Aca Dec Captures Second Place
Members of the OHS Aca Dec team are shown during a Google meet, a common way of preparing for the 41st Academic Decathlon competition due to COVID guidelines. Photo Contributed

Nothing looked the same for the 41st Annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon. The addition of the word “virtual” to the event title would be the most telling, as well as predictable fact as the Oakdale High Aca Dec team joined the others for the annual event, hosted on Saturday, Feb. 6. This year’s topic was the Cold War.

Amidst the virtual difference, coach Dee Hawksworth proudly coached 17 competing students in the months leading up to the Saturday event. The result of her coaching and the team’s effort resulted in a second place award to Oakdale High School, as well as a collection of 56 medals.

Second year competing team member Alana Casey was awarded First Place Scholastic Champion. While the team number was down to 17 from last year’s 28 and the circumstances a bit unconventional, Hawksworth shared she was more than pleased with the outcome of the young team.

“All the students in all the schools were supposed to be taking the test at the same time,” she said of the 41st competition.

Participating schools send a total of nine students to participate as the core competing team, up to three students in each category.

“I had a young class. I had no seniors on the competing team,” the coach said. “The more years you get this information, the easier it is to get medals. We had a lot of disadvantages this year, so considering that … second place is pretty awesome.”

Of the disadvantages, the coach noted previous study practices and coaching techniques which were less effective “virtually.”

“With on-line learning it’s hard to tell if they’re engaged,” Hawksworth shared. “In the classroom you can look around and tell, but with the on-line classes it’s hard. Especially with their cameras off and high school students don’t like having their cameras on.”

With several years under her belt as the team coach, Hawksworth is pretty savvy with best practices to use with the team in their studying practices, as well as learning techniques on categories which may be more challenging for some than others. The inability to meet in person, created its own hurdle for the 17 team members, yet despite it all the team still earned a trophy.

“The kids didn’t have as much of a chance this year for team bonding,” she confided. “Considering the circumstances I think the team did an amazing job.”


Awards were given in the following areas:

Language and Literature: Micah Kakuno, Honors Gold; Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Fifth Place; Alana Casey, Scholastic Gold; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Silver; Lance Bryant, Varsity Bronze; Bailey Hardman, Varsity Fourth and Carter Franca, Alternate Gold.

Social Science: Alana Casey, Scholastic Gold; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Silver; Rachelle Muhareb, Varsity Bronze; Lance Bryant, Varsity Fourth and Bailey Hardman, Varsity Fifth.

Music: Micah Kakuno, Honors Silver; Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Fourth; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Gold; Bailey Hardman, Varsity Bronze and Lance Bryant, Varsity Fourth.

Science: Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Bronze; Micah Kakuno, Honors Fifth; Alana Casey, Scholastic Bronze; Rachelle Muhareb, Varsity Silver; Lance Bryant, Varsity Silver and Bailey Hardman, Varsity Fourth.

Art: Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Silver; Micah Kakuno, Honors Fourth; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Gold; Alana Casey, Scholastic Silver; Johanna Fabian, Scholastic Fifth; Bailey Hardman, Varsity Silver and Lance Bryant, Varsity Fourth.

Math: Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Fourth and Rachelle Muhareb, Varsity Fifth.

Economics: Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors Gold; Mateo Zepeda, Honors Fifth; Johanna Fabian, Scholastic Gold; Alana Casey, Scholastic Bronze; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Fourth; Lance Bryant, Varsity Bronze; Bailey Hardman, Varsity Fourth and Leliani Roper, Alternate Fifth.

Essay: Micah Kakuno, Honors Fourth and Johanna Fabian, Scholastic Fourth.

Interview: Lance Bryant, Varsity Fourth.

Speech: Alana Casey, Scholastic Gold; Johanna Fabian, Scholastic Bronze; Melissa Barajas, Scholastic Fifth and Lance Bryant, Varsity Gold.