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AcaDeca competes in county competition

Sophia Goldberg sports editor

The AcaDeca team completed in the Academic Decathlon Los Angeles County Competition, which took place on Jan. 27 and Feb. 3. Scores will be announced for both the subjective and objective events on Feb. 8.

The competition took place at El Rancho High School, where the students were tested in the public speaking, interview and essay subjects on the first weekend. Multiple-choice tests on the remaining seven subjects, with regards to this year’s theme of Africa, took place on the second weekend.

Junior Daniel Weiner, a second-year AcaDeca team member, noticed differences between the past two seasons, mostly due to having a new advisor, AP Psychology teacher Roel Hinojosa. Topics are normally assigned during second semester of the previous school year, and studying usually begins over the summer. However, this year, the students did not really start studying until once the school year started.

“The biggest difference between this year and last year was that we started way later this year. That means that we had to put in a lot more work in January than in past years,” Weiner said.

Weiner presents an issue that Hinojosa hopes to address for next season, specifically by beginning studying once topics are announced in March.

“Last year, because of the transition [between coaches], students had a slow start. They didn’t start studying until the school year began,” Hinojosa said. “Once we find out the subject for next year, sometime in March but possibly as early as February, we could start reviewing even before this school year ends, and set up expectations for over the summer.”

This was Hinojosa’s first year sponsoring the competition team, and he relied on his students’ work ethic and help from coach John Johnson to work through this year.

“It was challenging to figure out what my role would be. It was not only the logistical parts, but also reviewing questions with the students, judging interviews and giving tips. Most of the work the students do themselves. I helped steer, but they’re doing the driving,” Hinojosa said. “Coach Johnson had a pivotal role in all this. The kids trust him and he has extraordinary knowledge. I know I relied on him a lot.”

Although the team has significant areas to improve in for future competitions, junior Katie Wu felt that her participation in AcaDeca helped her learn more about a continent not emphasized in her history courses and become closer with classmates.

“It was a fun experience that got me comfortable with public speaking and interviewing, as well as just having fun learning about Africa, a topic not very thoroughly covered in class,” Wu said. “We also bonded a lot as a team with all of the time we spent studying together.”

The team will travel to Sacramento for the state competition the weekend of March 22 to 25, if they qualify.

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