On Saturday, January 25 and February 1, 2020, all four Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) comprehensive high schools competed in the two part Orange County Academic Decathlon (OCAD).
For 52 years, this event has invited public and private high school students to compete in a series of academic tests and demonstrations. The topics cover a variety of academic disciplines, including art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science, and speech. This year’s theme was, “In Sickness and in Health: An Exploration of Illness and Wellness.”
Then on Friday, February 7, it was announced that PYLUSD high schools earned top honors at the OCAD Awards Ceremony at Orange County College.
In Division 1, Valencia High School came in fourth place (fourth overall) for the third year in a row, earning the Tigers a wild card invitation to the state competition scheduled for March in Sacramento. Esperanza High School also had a strong showing in Division 1, earning tenth place (tenth overall).
El Dorado High School (EDHS) and Yorba Linda High School also competed at the Division 2 level, earning many individual medals. In Division 1 and 2, PYLUSD is proud to have two teams ranked among the top ten in Orange County!
Here are the individual results from all four PYLUSD high schools:
El Dorado High School
The El Dorado Academic Decathlon Team competed in Orange County Division 2 and placed 11th, making them 25th overall. The highest scoring students were Iran Castillo, Alex Hernandez, Romney Olson, Emily Solheid, and Peter Weisel. Together, the Golden Hawks earned 14 individual medals, including one first place medal in the Scholastic Speech competition by Alex Hernandez who earned five medals overall. Other team members were Rebecca Preusch, Romney Olson, Braeden Bethencourt, Anita Mohajeri, Isabella Clark, Peter Weisel, Jacob Neligan, Jacob Morales, and Logan VanLanen.
This year’s team was lead by teacher Amanda Gulack, as well as assistant coaches Amanda Wolf, Michelle Erickson, Stephen Settle, Kelly Smith, and Tim Vrooman.
Esperanza High School
The Esperanza Aztecs earned tenth place in Division 1 (tenth overall). Students received a total of 10 individual subject medals combined. Here is a list of the contributing students and individual medals won:
- Michael Martinez (11)
- Eric Berg (12)
- Ellie Mullner (12)
- Leo Chan (12)
- Katrina Liu (11) = 3rd in Essay
- Thaimas Andronaco (11) = 2nd in Math
- Austin (Dae Eon) Kang (11) = 2nd in Math
- Matthew Nguyen (11) = 3rd in Math
- Jimmy Jude (12) = 4th in Interview
- Brian Nguyen (12) = 3rd in Math
- Asher Snyder (12) = 3rd in Essay, 5th in Art
- Manav Patel (12) = 4th in Essay, 5th in Interview
Notably, the Aztecs recaptured the “Spirit of OCAD” award after having received it in 2018. This trophy is presented to the school with the most presence, purpose, unity, and team spirit throughout the competition.
The team is coached by teacher Kressler Nguyen-Valdez.
Valencia High School (pictured above)
Valencia High School placed fourth in Division 1 (fourth overall). The team also took third in the Super Quiz competition. The Tigers received a total of 50 individual subject medals combined across all ten subjects.
Student Daanesh Jamal lead the team with an impressive 4th place finish in Honors GPA category. Daanesh was also awarded the Peterson Scholarship for Excellence, a $1,000 prize given to the most exemplary decathlete at this year’s competition. Scholastic student Shane Sawyer also placed 6th overall and Varsity students Dominique Hemedez and Izabella Padilla placing 5th and 8th overall respectively. The Tigers took home a total of $3,100 in scholarship money, in addition to their team awards and individual accolades. Individual awards received are as follows:
- Daanesh Jamal = 5th in Art, 2nd in Music, 5th in Interview, 2nd Literature, 5th in Science, 3rd in Economics, 3rd in Speech
- Catherine Park = 4th in Art, 2nd in Music, 1st in Literature, 5th in Math, 3rd in Science , 5th in Social Science
- Morgan Gee = 4th in Interview, 2nd in Math
- Emily Kim = 4th in Interview, 4th in Literature, 5th in Speech
- Shane Sawyer = 3rd in Music, 5th in Literature, 4th in Math, 5th in Science, 5th in Economics, 5th in Social Science
- Sannuth Rao = 1st in Economics, 3rd in Speech
- Dominique Hemedez = 4th in Art, 1st in Music, 4th in Math, 4th in Science
- Izabella Padilla = 3rd in Art, 5th in Music, 5th in Literature
- William Park = 1st in Speech
- Alex Lobertini = 2nd in Art, 4th in Music, 3rd in Literature, 5th in Math, 1st in Economics, 1st in Social Science
- Jazlynn Marin =2nd in Essay, 1st in Art, 3rd in Music, 2nd in Interview, 2nd in Literature, 5th in Math, 2nd in Science, 3rd in Economics, 2nd in Social Science
The team is lead by head coach Calen Rau, as well as coaches Samuel Myovich, Tara Filowitz, Mindi Foote, and Christopher Ulate.
Yorba Linda High School
Yorba Linda High School’s Mustangs performed well at the 2019-2020 Academic Decathlon tournament. In Division 2, student Katelyn Birchfield was nominated for an OCAD scholarship, and received 2nd place in Language/Literature. Mitchell Han received 3rd in Math, Audrey Lee 5th in Math, Kyle Wong 5th in Economics, Richard Du 2nd in Math, Ryan Burgess 2nd in Economics and 3rd in Math, while Brent Yun placed 1st in Economics, 3rd in Language/Literature, 3rd in Social Studies. Way to go, Mustangs!
The team was lead by coach Kelly Buchan.
To read more about the competition courtesy of the Orange County Department of Education, please visit https://newsroom.ocde.us/for-the-fourth-straight-year-woodbridge-high-wins-the-orange-county-academic-decathlon/.