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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

400 Students Ready for State Academic Decathlon

March 18, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Students from throughout California tapped their feet, bit their fingernails and furrowed their brows Friday morning as they waited to begin the first round of testing in the 21st annual California Academic Decathlon.

More than 400 students from 50 California high schools converged on the Los Angeles Airport Marriott for the two-day battle of the brains. The teams are vying for the title of state champion and the chance to compete in the national finals in San Antonio next month.

The competition is fierce. Moorpark High School won the national contest last year. El Camino High School took the top title in the nation the year before.

This year, Simi Valley High School is currently ranked top in the nation, based on scores from countywide competitions.

Los Angeles High School is ranked not far behind.

On Friday, students wrote essays and took exams in social science, science, math, music, literature, economics and art.

The contest continues this morning, when team members give interviews and deliver speeches at Westchester High School. Teams will also travel to Loyola Marymount to answer questions in the most popular event, the Super Quiz. This year's theme is "The Sustainable Earth."

Since they began preparing for the decathlon last summer, students have taken hundreds of practice tests, rehearsed their speeches dozens of times and spent countless hours listening to jazz and analyzing paintings.

They have sacrificed extracurricular activities, quit after-school jobs and put schoolwork aside.

"We've been working so hard to reach this goal and now we're finally here," said Moorpark's David Pomerantz. "It's kind of a relief."

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