The Granite Hills High School academic decathlon team traveled to Sacramento today to compete at this weekend’s California Academic Decathlon. The Academic Decathlon embodies a partnership of business, foundations and individuals in cooperation with the education community and county offices of education.
Granite Hills won the Tulare County decathlon title in February to earn the right to advance to the state competition.
“This weekend will be great for these students to go with open eyes and realize that there is a big world out there,” Granite Hills teacher and decathlon team coach Elissa Lombardi said. “There are going to be students from all over the state. They are going to talk with them to find out about college and where they are going to go to college. They are going to see the state capitol. It’s going to be a lot of exposure to things that they have never seen before.”
For some of these Granite Hills students, it’s an opportunity to travel outside Porterville for the first time.
“I have never done this before and it’s exciting to be doing this with my team,” sophomore Savannah Banuelos said.
Banuelos, who is currently in the LJE (Law, Justice and Ethics) Pathway and plans on becoming a forensic scientist, appreciates being a part of the team.
“It’s difficult since it’s an extra class in learning a new set of criteria, but it’s great to have people there supporting you whenever you need it,” Banuelos said.
Junior Celeste Castro, who wants to be a child psychologist, has previous experience with the academic decathlon.
“I was nervous when they were announcing the results (at the Tulare County competition),” Castro said. “We were holding each other’s hands during the announcement and we jumped up and down when they announced us as the winners.”
The team is looking to gain recognition not only for Granite Hills High School, but for Porterville as well.
“It’s a big honor and important to get our name out there,” senior Isaac James Flores said.
Flores, who plans on majoring in English in college and becoming a writer, feels he is able to help the team in terms of providing communication within the group which is important during a stressful competition.
“It can be intimidating for the students,” Lombardi said. “I’m going to take a wise man’s advice and remind the students to just enjoy the moment. They made it this far and all I can do is ask them to try their very best.”
Students during the competition take 30-minute multiple-choice tests in the subjects of Art, Economics, Music, Language and Literature, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science. In addition, each team member gives a planned four-minute speech and a two-minute impromptu speech, participates in a seven-minute interview, and has 50 minutes to write an expository essay.
The Super Quiz Relay, the final event, is open to the public and features questions from subject matters including Art, Economics, Music, Language and Literature, Science, and Social Science.