The Super Quiz, the last contest of the ninth Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon, attracted the most attention because it was the only part of the event open to the public.
Saturday's contest at the Gahr High School gymnasium in Cerritos attracted crowds of screaming parents and well-wishers. The winning Super Quiz team gets a trophy and bragging rights regardless of how well it scores in the overall competition.
The Super Quiz works this way: One student from each team goes to the gym floor. Each contestant is handed five questions, with multiple-choice answers to choose from. Announcers read the questions aloud for the audience. Students write their answers and the results are recorded.
Each team member gets a turn in the spotlight. Results are posted, question by question, to the cheers of the spectators.
This year's Super Quiz topic was astronauts and space travel. One question, for example, asked students to identify the propulsion system for the Apollo space program. (Answer: Saturn V rocket.)
The contest among the 73 competing teams came down to the last round, with West High School of Torrance and Wilson High School of Hacienda Heights in a virtual tie. Finally, it was down to the last two students. The West student scored a tough-to-beat four correct of the five questions.
Wilson's Michelle Ivey tallied a perfect five.
Her teammates crowded around her as she collapsed with exhaustion at the foot of the bleachers. "I can't breathe," she mouthed silently, unable to speak. But her face was beaming.
Wilson Coach Jim Kelly hugged his students as they hugged each other. Kelly looked more relieved than elated. He was ready for the pizza party that had been scheduled--win or lose--at Ivey's house.
"It's not how rich or smart you are," he said of the results. "It's how hard you work."
SUPER QUIZ RESULTS
Los Angeles County schools: 1st, Wilson High School, Hacienda Heights; 2nd, West High School, Torrance; 3rd, Mira Costa High School, Manhattan Beach.
Los Angeles city schools: 1st, University High School; 2nd, (four-way tie) Garfield, Taft, El Camino and Palisades high schools.
Southern California private schools (private and parochial schools in Los Angeles and Orange counties): 1st, (tie) Loyola High School, Los Angeles, and Servite High School, Anaheim; 2nd, Brethren Christian High School, Cypress.
Complete academic decathlon results will be announced at banquets next week. Overall winners will compete in the state championship.