As students exhaled after a long and stressful week leading to Thanksgiving break, Garden Grove High School’s Academic Decathlon members held their breath as they plowed through pages of notes, power point presentations, power guides, and flashcards. Friday night was no time to party for these competitors, for their first scrimmage was the following Saturday.
The Academic Decathlon junior/senior team has been preparing for their first scrimmage since the preceding summer. Season officially started in July, when decathletes began to power through their weekly readings of each subject packet and take daily quizzes and bi-weekly finals. They attended at least three two-hour meetings per week during the summer and met every day in Mr. Doan’s room (P26) from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the school year. At these meetings, they delivered their impromptus and prepared speeches, took finals, and reviewed material from previous nightly readings.
Decathletes promptly woke up at 6 am on Saturday, November 18, and headed to the Orange County Department of Education in Costa Mesa to compete against other schools in the district. Essentially, scrimmage was a practice round for the Orange County schools to prepare their teams for the official competition between January and February. Clutching their calculators in their sweaty hands and glancing nervously from one teammate to the other, they braced themselves for the worst.
The team reported to the test room at 8:05 a.m to complete 50-question multiple-choice tests on seven subjects — math, economics, language and literature, art, social science, and science — until 12:20 p.m. Heads spinning with knowledge from months of intense preparation, they fought against time, circling their answers to every single question before the 30-minute timer struck zero. “The tests weren’t too fun, but it was nice to be able to suffer with [my friends] as a team,” Valerie Tran (11) recalls. The team then took an hour-long lunch break before reporting to Building D to participate in the optional Super Quiz.
The optional Super Quiz had three rounds, each designated for a different GPA category. Varsity (2.99 GPA) decathletes competed in the first round, scholastics (3.74 GPA) in the second, and honors (4.00 GPA) in the third. In each round, decathletes answered fourteen questions. “I loved the tension as we waited to find out if our teammates got the answer correct, and cheering for them when they did,” remembers Cathy Duong (12). “It reminds me that all our hard work reading packets and studying at meetings actually pays off,” Keri Tate (12) adds.
After a long day of testing, students filed out of the building to check their test scores and overall team score. Garden Grove High School’s decathletes bubbled with hope when they saw their team rank — fifth place, which is typically high enough to enter state competition in Sacramento if they stay in the top five for their official competition. “It was really encouraging to hear that our school’s team got into fifth place with one varsity member missing,” remarks Trinh Vo (12). “I’m sure if we all worked more… we’d make it to the state competition!”
For some, scrimmage yielded outstanding results; for others, it was a wake up call to study harder. It nevertheless revealed the decathletes’ progression both as a team and individuals and will allow them to improve drastically from their scores in time for the actual competition on January 27 and February 3, 2018. “Scrimmage was definitely an eye-opening experience. Seeing my teammates endure throughout the days and their efforts and dedication… motivated me to do well during competition in January,” says Mimi Nguyen (12).