Beverly Hills High School, for the second year in a row, will represent California in the national finals of the U.S. Academic Decathlon at Loyola Marymount Univer sity on Wednesday.
The Beverly Hills team will face 39 other state championship teams in the fourth annual competition that tests a variety of academic skills.
Last year, Beverly Hills placed second to Pearce High School of Richardson, Tex.
The Academic Decathlon consists of multiple-choice tests in mathematics, science, economics, fine arts, grammar, literature and social studies, as well as essays, speeches and interviews.
In addition, a Super Quiz, which is the only event open to the public, will consist of five questions about John Naisbitt's best-selling book "Megatrends."
Decathlon rules require that of the six players on each team, two must have A averages, two must have B averages and two must have C averages. All six must take part in all events.
The Beverly Hills High School team members are Yuk-Lung Ha, Lori Gottlieb, Yaniv Tepper, Joey Waxman, Todd Gooch, Saul Kotzubie, and alternates Kent Kawahara and Chris Holt.
Team to Beat
Most academic decathletes are seniors, so there is usually a complete turnover of teams. That, says Waxman, the only junior on the Beverly Hills team, makes the outcome hard to predict.
Waxman expects that last year's champion, Pearce High School, will once again be the team to beat, but he said Beverly Hills does have an advantage over Pearce.
"They just had their state competition. We had ours three months ago, so we've had a better chance to improve," he said.
Gooch said he and his teammates have worked together despite the fact that all tests must be taken individually.
"We push each other to work and study more," Gooch said.
Despite the outside work, team members have maintained or even improved their school work.
Gooch, who usually has less than a 3.0, or B, average, saw his grades improve to a 3.66, or A-minus, average after he began his Academic Decathlon work.
Preparation for Finals
Beverly Hills coach Bonnie Miller said the team's preparations for the national finals have been aided by several of the school's opponents, who provided notes and workbooks from their recent state championships.
Miller, along with Gary Thorpe, teaches the team and the two alternates in an extracurricular class three days a week. In addition, the team has been meeting on weekends and during other free time to get in all the studying it can.
"I'm sure they'll do well," Miller said.