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Acadec Breaks Through to State Competition After Intensive Preparation

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Qualifying for the state-level competition for the second year in a row, AHS’ Academic Decathlon (Acadec) team exemplifies how hard work can go a long way.

After the regional-level Los Angeles County Academic Decathlon competition, AHS’ Acadec was initially told they did not rank high enough to continue competing at the state-level. Later, however, the discovery and correction of a scoring error pushed up the team’s rank enough for them to qualify.

Competing against almost 400 other students, AHS Acadec won 14 medals, which are awarded to the top scorers in each of the ten subjects. Junior Chi Yu won 7: gold in Math, Science and Interview; silver in Social Science; bronze in Economics and Speech; and one more for being the overall highest scorer on the team. Senior co-captain Derek Duong took a gold medal with a perfect score in Interview and a bronze medal in Science; senior co-captain Xenna Gallegos took silver in Interview, sophomore Cindy Luo took gold in Interview; senior Nicholas Takasaki won bronze in both Interview and Speech and senior Bill Pok won a bronze in Math. Moreover, 22-year adviser Jennie Malonek won Roberta Kordich coach award.

To prepare for competitions, Acadec members spend long hours studying massive amounts of content for four days a week. Packets of several hundred pages for each of the seven objective subjects (Art, Economics, Language and Literature, Math, Music, Science and Social Science) are just part of the material students must read. Rather than simply being smart, a strong work ethic is needed for success. In fact, competing schools are required to have teams of three categories: “A”, “B” and “C” students.

“I want to set the record straight,” Malonek said. “Everyone thinks you have to be a genius or a braniac to be in Acadec. [But] all you need is the will to learn and work. Even if you’re a C-student, if you want to challenge yourself or prove something to friends [or colleges], then I want you.”

For members, being a part of Acadec also remains enjoyable due to the bonds they form with each other.

“My favorite part about [Acadec] is that the team isn’t just a team. We have been able to bond to the point where we’re a family and it makes those long hours worth it,” Gallegos said.

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