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Trabuco Hills Students Ready for Mind Games

March 13, 1997|KIMBERLY BROWER

It was high anxiety time as the Trabuco Hills High School Academic Decathlon team crammed in some last-minute study sessions Wednesday in preparation for the 18th annual State Academic Decathlon, which starts Friday at Cal Poly Pomona.

Amid empty cookie boxes, doughnuts, juice and soda cans, the nine team members flipped through hundreds of pages of notes and study sheets in the teachers' workroom, excitedly answering questions posed by teachers who have spent the days leading up to the state competition grilling the students on everything from physics to poetry.

What is officially a recession? What is the purpose of business cycles? What is blank verse? What is allegory?

"Some of us are stress cases," Evelyn Townsell, 17, said during a study break.

"I'm excited," said Jeremy Wiederspahn, 17. "I think we're all ready for it."

Trabuco Hills, as the Orange County representative, will join 42 other schools from across California at the two-day contest, competing in division one against six other teams. Trabuco Hills reached the state level by beating Laguna Hills High School at the Orange County Academic Decathlon competition last year.

Going into the event, the Trabuco Hills team carries the second-highest point total, 47,102, behind last year's state champions El Camino Real High School of Woodland Hills.

"I'm just so proud of them," said teacher Janet Hooper, who has coached the school's academic decathlon team for 12 years. "This has been the most dedicated team I've ever had."

At the decathlon, the students are divided into three categories, which are designated according to a student's academic grades. They are then tested in 10 events, including science, speech, interview, essay, geography, math and the Super Quiz, during which students will be asked questions about the Information Revolution.

The winner of the state contest will be announced Sunday and goes on to the national competition in April in Utah. Nine scholarships totaling $27,000 will also be awarded to the three highest-scoring students in each category at the state competition.

As they played with plastic eyeballs provided by a science teacher as a silly distraction, many of the students said the decathlon experience has been a good one, despite the long hours studying, and the stress endured since they started training last fall.

"It's going to be fun," Carlos Mladineo, 17, said of this weekend's state event. "We feel pretty good. We're going to do our best. That's all you can ask for."

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