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Granite Hills will represent Tulare County at state championship in March

Granite Hills will represent Tulare County at state championship in March


TULARE COUNTY – California’s standardized testing may give you a glimpse into a high school’s ability to educate students in math and English, but nothing gives you a snapshot into how well rounded those students are quite like the Academic Decathlon.

On Feb. 2, the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) held the final rounds of the 2019 Tulare County Academic Decathlon, a 10-event scholastic competition for teams of high school students held at TCOE’s Conference Center in Visalia. Teams of Tulare County students from eight high schools competed in two school categories – large school and small school – for the chance to advance to the state competition.

“Few other competitions engage students of various academic levels in the study of so many subject matters,” said Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Tim Hire. “In addition, Academic Decathlon is helping to build writing, communication and speaking skills through its essay, interview and speech competitions – skills that will serve students well into college and career.”

Each team had six to nine members contending in 10 grueling events. The teams are made up of equal numbers (either two or three students) from the following grade point groups: Varsity (0-2.99 GPA), Scholastic (3-3.74 GPA) and Honors (3.75-4 GPA). Team members test their knowledge of subjects including economics, social science, mathematics, music, art, language and literature, and science. In addition, the contestants present prepared and impromptu speeches, written essays on given topics and undergo interviews by a panel of judges.

The academic relay known as the oral “Super Quiz” was the final competitive event. Questions in this year’s Super Quiz topic were related to the national theme, “The 1960s: ATransformational Decade.” The Super Quiz round of competition took place on Feb. 2 in TCOE’s Conference Center at 6200 S. Mooney Blvd. in Visalia. This portion of the event and the awards ceremony were the only events open to the public.

The top large school team and overall champion of the event was Granite Hills High School in Porterville. The team was led by Gwenyth English, who took home the honors as the top performing Varsity player, Mackinzie Thomason, who outperformed all others in the panel interview by judges, and Denise Rodriguez, who shined among her peers in the impromptu speech category. Rounding out the team were Savannah Banuelos, Emilly Ceballos, Ana Morales, Jaden Perez, Sergio Quinonez, Daniel Diaz, and Jacqueline Gonzalez who helped beat out large school teams from Dinuba High School, Tulare Western High School, El Diamante High School in Visalia, and Mission Oak High School in Tulare.

The top small school team was Orosi High School which beat out teams from Woodlake High School and Harmony Magnet Academy in Strathmore. The team was comprised of Manolo Cirilo, Kylee Pascual, Joshua Talingo, Desiree Alvarado, Noah LaFleur, Julio Castorena, and Pedro Mendez.

Harmony Magnet Academy, a charter school in Porterville Unified School District, had the highest number of leaders in individual categories with Ryan Cometa leading in economics and math, Mae Vercnocke in literature, and Meera Kashyap in science. The Strathmore school also finished top in the SuperQuiz. Rounding out HMA’s team were Chloe Nelson, Emily Alvarado, Owen Linton, Jasius Taggs, Alex Soliz, Kayla Villalobos and Michael Williamson.

Granite Hills will represent the county at the state championship March 21-24 in Sacramento. For more information about the Academic Decathlon, contact Cari Carlson at (559) 651-3350.

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