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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | EAST COUNTY / MOORPARK

Decathlon Champs Get Heroes' Welcome

April 20, 1999|ERIC C. SANITATE

The celebration is just beginning for Moorpark High School's Academic Decathlon team--the storied squad that brought home a national title over the weekend.

Moorpark High administrators will honor its champions today at 10 a.m. during a special assembly in the school gymnasium.

Team co-coach Larry Jones said administrators want to hold the celebration immediately so the eight members of the squad can be free of distractions while they prepare for finals and for college.

"We're just trying to make sure the kids don't get further behind in any of their classes," Jones said.

"The Advanced Placement tests are coming up in a couple weeks, and the students will be given college credit if they pass them. . . . We don't want the students to be too distracted."

Things haven't been the same since Sunday afternoon's win. Television camera crews converged on the school Monday hoping to get a few sound bites for their newscasts.

"It's been hectic, [but] the kids deserve the attention," said Jones, a history teacher.

The national championship was won after nearly a year of intense studying. "It's a huge relief," Jones said. "It's jubilation masked by exhaustion."

The team is also making waves in Washington, D.C., following a comment senior John Ellis made after the awards ceremony Sunday in Anaheim.

"We've already gone to Disneyland, now maybe we'll go to the White House," Ellis said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer took Ellis' offhand remark one step further, urging President Clinton on Monday to extend a White House invitation to the Academic Decathlon squad.

Jones said the team has its sights set on another honor usually reserved for star athletes.

"The kids want the White House and to be on the front of a Wheaties box," he said. "They just think it would be nice to have academic champions on Wheaties for once."

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