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OHS Aca Dec Returns To In Person Super Quiz
O competing
Members of the Academic Decathlon competing team for Oakdale High School this year include, from left, Joseph Yakligian, Honors; Mateo Zepeda, Scholastic; Bailey Hardman, Varsity; Johanna Fabian, Varsity; Carter Franca, Scholastic; Bleu Ancheta, Scholastic; Cesar Garcia Santana, Honors; Micah Kakuno, Honors; Yareli Duarte, Varsity. Photo Contributed

It may not be a sport, yet it is a competition which Oakdale High School has become known for.

This Saturday, Feb. 5 Oakdale High School will once again be represented in the annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon.

While the competition may look different from many of its preceding years, it most definitely looks different than last year and the OHS competing team believes that’s a good thing. It won’t be all virtual this year, as some activity will be outdoors, but with the teams having the chance to meet in person for the event.

The OHS competing team is as follows: Honors (3.75+ GPA): Cesar Garcia Santana, Micah Kakuno and Joseph Yakligian; Scholastic (3.0-3.74 GPA): Carter Franca, Mateo Cepeda and Bleu Ancheta; Varsity Team (less than 3.0 GPA): Bailey Hardman, Johanna Fabian and Yareli Duarte.

“Hawksworth places a big emphasis on us as a competing team working together as a team,” Bailey Hardman said of coach Dee Hawksworth. “I feel like that was really lost online. But now that we’re back together, I feel like the team is really working well together.”

“With all these restrictions we can’t get the same amount of time to learn, but we still put in a substantial amount as a group,” Cesar Garcia Santana, the lone senior on the team, shared. “I feel that compared to the online years, we have a much stronger chance to succeed because we’ve been able to work together in person.”

And with the history of the Aca Dec teams of the past preceding them, the drive for success continues. The OHS team regained its first place status in 2020, only to then take second in the 2021 virtual competition.

“Last year didn’t really feel like a team because we never had any of those weekend or after school practices,” returning competing team member Johanna Fabian added. “So it was really different because freshman year, the team felt really connected. We did do so much together. So I feel like this year has really given us like that experience again.”

As for the pressure of the legend, the team agreed to being more focused on returning to somewhat normal practice and competing practices over anything else.

“I think it’s best to just run our own race,” Hardman said. “I feel like if we worry, for one, this is just to have fun. I think worrying too much about what place we get kind of ruins it for us. Not only that, but basically that’s not something we really talk about. Just basically worrying about ourselves.”

A Stanislaus County Office of Education event, this week it was announced that an in person Super Quiz and Awards Ceremony will be hosted outdoors at the SCOE parking lot, 1100 H St., Modesto. The outdoor venue allows the public to attend; spectators are asked to bring their own chairs.

The Super Quiz will be hosted at 2 p.m., followed by awards at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 5.

“The Super Quiz online and the Super Quiz in person, they have to change it dramatically,” Garcia Santana said of the major change from last year’s competition to this year. “Its online super quizzes (are) more like an extension, you’re just taking another test. In person you can collaborate with your teammates; that was not something you get to do online.”

“I think that it’s good that we get to be in person so we can have like after school practice, or we can practice, because we missed out on all of that last year,” Fabian continued, “also we have the test in person, so it’s easier to get help if something goes wrong. So even though it’s not exactly the same thing, it definitely is more like normal than last year.”

As for the biggest misperception about an Aca Dec student, the answer remains the same – year after year.

“That we have good grades,” Hardman said of the stereotype. “I have to be honest, a lot of us have good grades, but I think it’s that people think you have to have good grades. In reality, people don’t know academic decathlon is cut into three different sections by grades.”

Garcia Santana said in reality, “anybody who just likes learning” would do well to get involved with the Aca Dec program.