Placer High Academic Decathlon brings home 13 medals

By: Loryll Nicolaisen, Journal staff writer
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Placer High School Academic Decathlon’s lucky number is 13. It was the school’s first time in five years participating in the Placer County Academic Decathlon, and students scored high enough to walk away from competition earlier this month with 13 medals. Sarah Maddox, who has been teaching the Academic Decathlon class at Placer, said the 15 students who comprised the school’s two teams did an excellent job. “It crosses the curriculum boundaries. It’s just a great way of being part of a team and learning more about the wider world,” Maddox said of Academic Decathlon. Teams from Placer, Granite Bay, Lincoln, Oakmont, Rocklin, Roseville and Woodcreek high schools competed in this year’s 23rd annual Placer County Academic Decathlon, held Feb. 7 at Roseville High. The competition, which carries a different theme each year, focused on Latin America and was comprised of a series of 10 events, including music, math, social studies, economics, art, language and literature, speech, essay, interview and “super quiz.” Senior Ian Haydon was the big winner from Placer, earning six medals. Only problem was, he was the only Placer member not around to accept his medals at the Feb. 10 banquet. “A few of the members were texting me,” he said. Haydon earned gold medals in economics and interview, a silver medal in art and three bronzes, for social studies, speech and essay. “It feels like a genuine accomplishment,” he said. Junior Alexandrea Brigham scored a perfect 1,000 points on her speech, earning her a gold medal. During the decathlon, Brigham only had to give her speech to two judges. Tuesday night, she was invited to give her award-winning speech again before a crowd of more than 100. “Now I had to stand up in front of all the decathletes and all of their parents and grandparents, and their principals,” said Brigham, who also won a silver medal in the interview portion. That said, speaking in front of the whole crowd wasn’t too painful. The thrill of victory for her school’s teams didn’t hurt, either. “It was nice, having us be recognized,” she said. Brigham thoroughly enjoyed her first run at Academic Decathlon, and wants to do it again next year. “We’re like a big family, and we went through all of this together,” she said. “It was really difficult, but it was really rewarding.” Junior Taylor Rick won a bronze medal for social studies. “I didn’t expect it because it’s my first year doing this, but it felt good coming home with something,” she said of winning the bronze. Junior Paige Rothe, who won a gold medal in interview, shared a similar sentiment. “I was pretty excited,” she said. “It was fun. I didn’t think I’d win a gold.” Junior Sahmed Aceves earned a silver medal in math. Aceves said she enjoyed everything about Academic Decathlon. “I’m Mexican, so learning a little more about where I’m from was interesting,” she said, “and there are people in that class that I probably wouldn’t know otherwise. It was a good experience and I’m glad I did it.” Maddox hopes next year’s Academic Decathlon class generates even more interest than this year’s did. “It’s just a good fit for Placer High School,” she said. The winning Placer County team, Granite Bay High, goes on to compete in the California Academic Decathlon in March. The Journal’s Loryll Nicolaisen can be reached at __________ Placer High Academic Decathletes Sahmed Aceves Alexandrea Brigham James Dietler William Featherston Carly Fox Ian Haydon Shelby Lee Tavis Lemley Jonathan Luke McKayla Markgraf Emily Mattson Victor Monjaras Danielle Raty Taylor Rick Paige Rothe Teacher Sarah Maddox