All four PYLUSD high schools compete in Orange County’s virtual Academic Decathlon

VHS OCAD.Valencia High School's 2022 Academic Decathlon team won 2nd place in Division 1.

Over three consecutive Saturdays from January 22 through February 5, all four Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) comprehensive high schools competed in the Orange County Academic Decathlon (OCAD) in an online format. Due to the unique nature of this school year, all of the traditional OCAD events were adapted to an online format including the Super Quiz Relay.

For 54 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, “Water: A Most Essential Resource.”

On Wednesday, February 16, it was announced that PYLUSD high schools earned top honors at the OCAD Awards Ceremony online.

In Division 1, Valencia High School came in second place, earning the Tigers an invitation to the state competition, which is scheduled to take place virtually March 1-12. Esperanza High School also had a strong showing in Division 1 earning seventh place, which qualified the Aztecs for the state finals too.

El Dorado High School competed at the Division 2 level and Yorba Linda High School at the Division 3 level with their students earning medals in various competitions. PYLUSD is proud of the efforts of all four schools!

Here are the individual results.

El Dorado High School

In the Scholastic GPA category, Wisam Hagsaleh won 3rd place in Literature, 5th in Science, and 5th in Speech. Josef Ammari won 2nd place in Art, 2nd in Music, 2nd in Social Science, 1st in Economics, and 1st in Science. In the Honor GPA category, Tushaar Mohta placed 5th in Economics and Alexander Hobrath placed 2nd in Economics. Head coach is Amanda Gulack and the assistants are Amanda Wolf, Michele Erickson, Yasmeen Zaparolli, and Kelly Smith.

Esperanza High School

Esperanza’s Academic Decathlon team earned seventh place in Division 1 and an invitation to the state competition. This is the second year in a row the Aztecs have qualified for states. They also were awarded the Spirit of OCAD trophy for most spirited team collaboration, which marks the 3rd time they have earned this distinction.
The team also won 5th place in Super Quiz in Division 1 and 18 individual medals. Student Megan Davis was 4th overall individual in OC (varsity category), earning a $600 scholarship. Head coach is Esperanza biology teacher Kressler Nguyen-Valdez.

The students on the team:

  1. Kaitlyn Thiha
  2. Katie Flanagan
  3. Justine Koo
  4. Ella Reynoza (1 medal: 5th social science)
  5. Samantha Lee (1 medal: 4th science)
  6. Chessa Park (1 medal: 4th essay)
  7. Naya Williams (1 medal: 4th interview)
  8. Mihir Bhanji (2 medals: 5th science & 5th social science)
  9. Avinaash Sarma (2 medals: 3rd speech & 5th interview)
  10. Julia Chan (2 medals: 3rd interview & 5th essay)
  11. Megan Davis (8 medals: 2nd literature, 2nd essay, 3rd math, 4th music, 5th art, 5th social science, 5th speech & 4th place overall individual in OC).


Valencia High School

The VHS Academic Decathlon team placed second overall in Orange County and will be headed to the state competition in March! Looking at results from across the state, the Tigers are among the highest-scoring teams in California.

The team was led by captain Carolyn Lin who placed 5th overall (out of nearly 300 competitors). Seniors Andrea Wang (8th overall) and Aaron Kim (7th overall) also had extremely strong showings. Kathryne (Kate) Toller also received the Hooper Scholarship, worth $1000, based on her consistent improvement and strong senior performance this year. Starters Sean Nguyen (senior), Perseus Sannah (junior), Grace Cortez (junior), and Liliana Gabriel-Rogel (junior) also received an array of medals, helping to propel the team to state.

The Tigers also placed third overall in the Super Quiz Relay. “Special shout out to our youngest ever main team decathlete Samuel Choi (freshman), who nailed all of the math questions!” Head Coach Calen Rau shared.

The Valencia team was rounded out by a supporting cast of younger decathletes, many of whom medaled in Division IV. These include:

Arushi Somani (junior)
Vivek Shah (junior)
Jasmine Han (junior)
Darshil Vaishnav (junior)
Chloe Jeon (sophomore)
Daeun Lee (sophomore)
Nathan Lee (sophomore)
Ryan Lin (sophomore)
Wynn Youm (sophomore)
Matthew Yun (sophomore)

Way to go, VHS!

Yorba Linda High School

In Division 3, the following students from Yorba Linda High School earned medals. Music #1 Syra Patel; Econ 2nd place Syra Patel; Math: David Van Dyke, 5th place. Syra Patel, 4th Place; Essay third place, Syra Patel; Interview, 3rd place Sophia Shah, Syra Patel and 5th place Steven Yano. The team’s coach is Kelly Buchan. Way to go, Mustangs!

To read more about the competition courtesy of the Orange County Department of Education, please click the link below.

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