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OHS Students Gear Up For Academic Decathlon
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Oakdale High School 2018-19 Academic Decathlon competing team will defend the title of Champions at the upcoming Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon on Feb. 2. Photographed clockwise back to front: Jacob Smith, Tayler Downing, Jean Pagaduan, Ryan Kummer, John Creech, Chris Cerda and Jaime Cuevas. Not pictured: Jaden Alvarez and Caroline Krum.

The Oakdale High School Academic Decathlon team is once again ready to put their smarts to the test and defend the title of Champions.

Weathering late-night study sessions, team practices, and hours of reading, Stanislaus County high school students are pulling out all the stops as they head into the home stretch of preparations for the 2019 Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon. 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, “1960’s – A Transformational Decade.”

A total of 26 OHS students returned to participate in the class for the 2018-19 school year. Nine of the 26 will represent the school at the 39th annual event as the competing team, while the others will represent as alternates.

The 2018-19 Aca Dec competing team is: Honors - Ryan Kummer, Jean Pagaduan and Caroline Krum; Scholastic - Tayler Downing, Jacob Smith and Jaime Cuevas and Varsity - John Creech, Chris Cerda and Jaden Alvarez.

Jean Pagaduan and Tayler Downing are the only two returning to the competing team from last year. While Ryan Kummer is new to the competing side of the competition, it’s his fourth year as a member of the OHS Aca Dec overall team.

“It’s been dropping,” Aca Dec Coach Dee Hawksworth shared of the team number. “I think it’s because the kids have so many commitments and Aca Dec takes more time than anything else.”

First cracking open student guides this past August, the competing team echoed Hawksworth’s summation, noting their study time both as a group as well as sharp focus over the past month as attribute for what’s to come event day.

Deemed as the leader of the group, first year competing team member, senior Jaime Cuevas credits his discipline and ability to lead to his past soccer experience.

He shared through most of his years as a competitive soccer player, he often found himself in a lead role, noting the importance of focus and camaraderie to have a winning team.

“They’re an amazing team,” the coach said. “They have great potential.”

Participating schools send a total of nine members to serve as the core team – three students in each of three categories, based on grade point averages. Schools may send as many alternate participants as they choose. Categories include Honors, 3.75-4.00 GPA; Scholastic, 3.00-3.74 GPA; and Varsity, 0.00-2.99 GPA. Fourteen local high schools are participating in this year’s event including Beyer, Central Catholic, Central Valley, Ceres, Davis, Enochs, Gregori, Hughson, Johansen, Keyes Charter, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson and Valley Charter.

The public is invited to attend the culminating event, the Super Quiz and Awards Presentation, on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 1:20 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Johansen High School, 641 Norseman Drive, Modesto. There is no charge for admission.

This year’s winner will represent Stanislaus County at the California Academic Decathlon State Finals, March 22 through 24, in Sacramento.