students running

El Dorado County Academic Decathlon is Back In-Person

12:00 PM - February 02, 2023

The El Dorado County Academic Decathlon is in full swing, and El Dorado Union High School District (EDUHSD) students are excited to be back in person after two years of competing virtually.

Students, also referred to as decathletes, spend countless hours beginning in summer studying the overall topic Academic Decathlon will cover. This year is The American Revolution. Teams meet during lunch to study and oftentimes set aside time at home to go over the material. With Academic Decathlon, students can build their knowledge and college application, but nearly all mentioned that the one thing they value most is the friendships created. “It’s just a great community. We have so many people who are all so smart and willing to help each other, and you can just learn so much from each other,” shares Delaney Palmer, decathlete at Union Mine.

During the afternoon and evening of Wednesday, February 1, El Dorado, Oak Ridge, Ponderosa, and Union Mine high schools compete in two of the 10 events: Speech and Interview. The Essay portion was completed online last week, and the seven remaining events will take place on Saturday, February 4.

Speech and Interview events require students to present to a panel of two to three judges. Speech features two sub-events: Prepared Speech and Impromptu Speech. The former focuses on a topic chosen and researched by the student, and the latter is chosen at competition time with only one minute allotted to prepare. Interview requires judges to ask pre-determined questions. During both events, students must present proficiently and confidently.

On Wednesday evening, competing students gathered in the cafeteria at Union Mine and studied until it was their time to compete. Coaches ensured that students were prepared, composed and excitedly sent them off one by one to present to the judges. The evening concluded with pizza from Pizza Plus, where students, coaches, and volunteer judges convened to enjoy a meal. A sense of relief filled the room, now that an important part of the competition was over.

Saturday’s events will run all day, with students in the gymnasium taking tests on topics including art, music, literature, science, math, social science, and economics. Academic Decathlon concludes with a fun Super Quiz event and an awards ceremony that is open to the public. These events begin at 3 p.m. in the theater at Union Mine.

The entire series of events would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Speech and Interview judges are composed of new and veteran volunteers. Saturday will see additional volunteers as presenters during the awards ceremony. EDUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Chris Moore will act as Super Quiz Master.  Award presenters include Assessor Jon DeVille, Sheriff Jeff Leikauf, the Honorable Judge Dylan Sullivan, and Supervisor Wendy Thomas. The Kiwanis Club of Placerville will provide a barbecue lunch.

“I am proud of the commitment and dedication of the decathletes and their coaches competing here today,” said Dr. Ed Manansala, El Dorado County Superintendent of Schools. “I would also like to acknowledge the many EDCOE team members, community volunteers and sponsors involved. This is truly a community event celebrating the very best of education in El Dorado County.”

Ponderosa hopes to take home the trophy again this year, as they disrupted Oak Ridge’s winning streak from 2017-2021. We’ll see what the exciting competition has in store!

Ponderosa coach, Joseph Beatty, sits with students as they prepare.

Oak Ridge coach, Jeff Hassian, speaks to students.

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