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Alemany High Wins 6th Private School Decathlon in a Row

Education: Mission Hills team advances to state contest. Among public schools, El Camino Real, Marshall, Burbank, Glen A. Wilson win Super Quiz.


Alemany High School in Mission Hills won its sixth consecutive Academic Decathlon competition among 15 Southern California private schools Saturday night, advancing students to the state contest.

Alemany scored 41,163 points out of a possible 60,000. St. Francis High School in La Canada Flintridge ranked second with 36,743 points, followed by a town rival, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, which netted 34,337 points.

About 200 raucous fans filled the Alemany dining hall to watch the contest, hooting and hollering for their favorite teams.

Although Alemany has long dominated its decathlon foes, this victory had special meaning for a team member who began as an alternate, only to be boosted to the starting squad a month ago.

"Coming so far, so fast, under such great leadership is a fantastic feeling," said Jill Staats, a 17-year-old senior.

In two other Academic Decathlon contests Saturday, El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills and Marshall High School in Los Feliz tied for the top spot in the Los Angeles Unified School District's Super Quiz oral portion of the competition, while Burbank High School and Glen A. Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights shared first place in a similar competition for Los Angeles County campuses.

Winners of the overall decathlon--a mental jousting based on this year's theme, "Understanding the Self," which includes philosophy, religion and psychology--will be announced at separate banquets Friday.

The Super Quiz, a fast-paced question-and-answer contest in a "College Bowl" format, is the final portion of the decathlon competition and is often a good indicator of what school will be the overall winner.

Among the 59 Los Angeles Unified campuses, a total of seven schools shared gold, silver or bronze honors for the oral segment of the Super Quiz, an adrenaline-charged battle fueled by the foot-stomping and screeching of 2,500 fans. The contest was so close that teams tied for all three top slots.

El Camino and Marshall both captured first place, each earning 58 points. There was a three-way tie for second place between rivals that each racked up 55 points: North Hollywood High School, Los Angeles High School, and Garfield High School in East Los Angeles.

Reseda High School and Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades tied for third place with matching scores of 53 in the competition at UCLA.

After the cheering died down, some students were still stewing over their mistakes--even if their teams won.

"I'm disappointed because I missed one question," said Grace Giles, 17, a senior at El Camino. "But it's good enough. I'm happy with our results."

Students representing 60 Los Angeles County campuses competed at Torrance High School, with two schools--Burbank and Wilson--tying for first place with 52 points. El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera and Palos Verdes Peninsula High School in Rolling Hills Estates placed second and third with 51 and 50 points, respectively.

Each school sends three teams: The varsity, representing students with a grade-point average of 2.99 or lower; the scholastic team, with a grade average between 3.0 and 3.74; and the honors team, with a grade average of 3.75 or above.

Students on decathlon teams regularly spend 20 hours a week in class and at home studying a required syllabus published each year by officials of the U.S. Academic Decathlon.

The state competition will take place March 16-18 in Los Angeles. The top-scoring team goes to the national contest April 18-21 in Anchorage, Alaska.

Times staff writer Sue Fox contributed to this story.

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