For the second consecutive year, Beverly Hills High School has placed first in the California Academic Decathlon. Beverly Hills' Westside rival, Palisades High School, came in fourth.
The state academic championship, featuring 38 schools from throughout California, was conducted last Thursday at Chapman College in Orange. The results of the 10-event competition, patterned after the Olympic Games, were close.
Bonnie Miller, Beverly Hills' assistant coach, said that the team scored 43,393 out of possible 60,000 points, beating second-place finisher Foothill High School of Orange County by 691. Theodore Roosevelt High School of Fresno County came in third.
"We are very proud of our team," Miller said. "It was close, but I don't think I ever really thought we were not in a winning position."
Miller said the students began feeling confident about their chances after the first event, the history of World War I. Their score of 5,160 out of a possible 6,000 points tied them for first place. "They came back from the test and said they were going to win," she said. "I thought we had the edge."
That edge resulted from months of training that began last summer. Students spent many hours in preparation, both in class and at home. In November, they captured first place in the county, winning the chance to compete in the state finals. Palisades went to the state competition as the city of Los Angeles champions.
Last week's victory qualifies the Beverly Hills squad to represent California in the national championships in April at Loyola Marymount University. Forty-five state winners are expected to compete. Last year Beverly Hills placed second in the nation behind Pearce High School of Richardson, Tex.
In the decathlon each competitor must take a battery of tests including an interview, essay, speech and multiple-choice exam covering mathematics, science, economics, fine arts, grammar and literature and social studies.
The rules require that each team be composed of six players--two with A averages, two with B averages and two with C averages.
The Beverly Hills Unified School District provides $1,800 for the head coach and $300 each for assistant teaching coaches. Students are given academic credit.
Miller said the team is looking forward to the national competition.
"We ended the old year well and now we will prepare for the new year," said Miller, an English teacher who coaches the team in speech, essays and grammar. She said the team will be given four to five weeks of vacation before they start training again.
"Our team will have to work hard," Miller said. "The whole thing to winning is being well prepared and confident in your own ability. We (the coaches) will look at the scores and try to maintain their strengths and correct their weaknesses."