Education Matters: academic decathlons teaching students perseverance

Education

FRESNO COUNTY, California (KSEE) – University High School walked away with the top prize at this year’s Fresno County Academic Decathlon, hosted by the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools.

Educators hope the school’s come-back win can serve as a lesson to other top scoring schools who did not do as well as expected.

“When you think about 10 events over two weeks, these kids have put in literally hundreds of hundreds of hours studying,” said Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino

Members of Fowler High School’s academic decathlon team started preparing for the competition last summer.

“We do stress academics here and it’s important to us,” said Principal Rick Romero.

Fowler High competes in the Division 2 category and has won the championship for the past seven years in a row.

“If you know your stuff it’s not going to phase you because yea you’re going to be in front of people, yea it’s a lot of pressure, but realistically we’ve been studying this for months so we just have to keep our cool,” said student Kyleigh Hiyana.

Fowler faced a new challenge this year: nearly everyone on the team is new and had never participated in academic decathlon.

“They don’t know what the ground rules are,” said Academic Decathlon coach Dr. Dave Tinker. “Many of them before they joined our group have not heard of Academic Decathlon, they don’t know what the competition is, they don’t know what the expectations are at the competition.”

If you’ve never been to an academic decathlon event it can bowl you over – it’s as loud as any football game.

Fowler didn’t win the Division 2 Championship this year – that honor went to Sanger High School. But there was a lesson here: the school that dominated first place lost last year, but university high was back on top this year.

While much of the attention is focused on the top-scoring school, the individual awards may be just as important because a student from Cambridge Continuation High School can do just as well as the student from top-scoring University High School.

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