On Saturday morning, May 20th, seventeen students on GGHS’s Academic Decathlon team trekked to Aliso Niguel High School to face other Frosh/Soph teams in Orange Country in a battle of academic grit. After studying the art, music, history, science, math, and literature pertaining to World War II, these Argos sharpened their pencils and their minds to take 50-question multiple choice exams on each subject, hoping to score high for a chance to win individual and team medals. Each decathlete also prepared a two-minute speech for the speech component of the competition, and they all donned formal suits and elegant attire to impress their speech judges. After many hours of bubbling in answer choices for more than 250 test questions in quiet classrooms, our decathlon team then went down to Aliso Niguel’s gym floor to take part in Super Quiz, where the Honors students, Scholastic students, and Varsity students of every school’s team answered 10 test questions, surrounded by cheering coaches, parents, and teammates on the bleachers. Our Argos dominated the Super Quiz category, getting a majority of the questions right.
Even though the competition day itself was the equivalent of a normal school day in length, it took months of preparation for our Decathletes to learn all the material and master it. Each day after school since February, these freshmen and sophomores met up in Mr. Doan’s class to study together, doodle mind maps of what they’re studying on whiteboards, take mock exams created by the upperclassmen club officers, and share snacks together.
And it’s not easy keeping up the same routine day after day, especially when these decathletes are also juggling other extracurriculars (such as sports) and their grades as well. However, Bella Pham (10), a second-year Decathlete, has remained dedicated despite the stress from school. “One of the main reasons that I’m so motivated to keep learning and working hard is because of how hard everyone around me is working. I have teammates up at midnight that are still studying for a Decathlon final and teammates that wake up early to finish reading packets. Aside from the team, the officers work hard to raise the few thousand dollars we need in order to pay for competition and our packets. Seeing the team work so hard makes me want to work hard as well.”
Their hard work paid off. The results were declared on Awards Night, Friday June 3rd. Almost every member came home from jingling medals from placing individually in the various subjects. Nghiem Pham (10) received a medal for 1st place Overall Individual and was the highest-scoring member on the team. He shares, “The highlight of Awards Night was seeing all the effort, the hours spent reading through pages upon pages of text, practicing speeches in front of trees, mirrors, and worst yet, people, finally pay off. We cheered and screamed and cried as people who came in terrified of speaking placed in speech, and people who were terrified of scoring nothing got first place medals.”
The team awards were declared at the final moments on awards night. Finally, after a long night of individual achievements, Garden Grove High School’s main team was called up to receive the First Place Super Quiz award as well the First Place Overall Team award.
“It’s amazing because all the effort we put in led up to this achievement,” Nghiem reflects. “Getting first is important because it’s fulfilling a legacy. All the decathletes who came before us hoping to take first and make it to state and even nationals helped pave the way for us. And one day, one day soon, we’ll reach the dream they’ve been dreaming.”
Good job, GGHS decathletes! Continue to dream high and reach those goals.