South Pas High’s Academic Decathlon Team 3rd at State

The Tigers have made history by becoming the first non-LAUSD team to score more than 53,500 points. Front row, from left, head coach Oliver Valcorza, Adam Hamden, Stephen Chin, Allison Ou, Grace Goldman, Ryan Jeong, and Tim An. Back row, from left, Danny Safoui, Dexter Hawes, Thomas Sawano, and Zane Atkinson. Courtesy photo

On March 25, after two days of rigorous testing, it was announced that the South Pasadena Academic Decathlon Team finished 3rd in state competition.

South Pasadena made history along the way, becoming the first non-LAUSD school in California’s entire history of Academic Decathlon competition to achieve an overall team score (without including the Super Quiz portion) of more than 53,500.

From morning till night on the 23rd and 24th, students were tested on their knowledge of art, economics, music, language and literature, mathematics, science, social science, speech, interview, and essay. The final event, Super Quiz, concluded after 7 p.m. last Saturday. The questions theme for the 2018 competition was Africa.

Finishing 1st was El Camino Real Charter High School, also winners of the 2018 regional Los Angeles Unified School District competition. Right behind it was Granada Hills Charter High School, another LAUSD academic decathlon powerhouse.

South Pasadena squeezed in between Franklin High School in Highland Park and Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, 4th and 5th respectively.

The California state championship is arguably more competitive than the national competition. Only state champions continue to nationals, so California teams with higher scores than most of the teams in the national competition are left out.

California boasts the last 15 winners of the national competition, and has never finished outside of the top two since nationals began. South Pasadena’s 3rd place finish, therefore, makes it one of the best academic decathlon teams at the national level.


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Harry Yadav has served as the Editor of the South Pasadena Review since January of 2018. Born and raised in South Pasadena, Harry graduated from South Pasadena High School in 2012, where he played golf and basketball and wrote for the Tiger newspaper. In 2016, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.