American Canyon High School’s academic decathlon team is going to the state competition for the first time following a successful performance on Saturday that saw the students receive the most medals since entering the event four years ago.
The eight-student team competed in the annual North Bay Regional Academic Decathlon and wracked up a total of 32 medals — the largest haul to date, and nine more than last year when ACHS received 23 medals, according to Academic Decathlon Coach and Math Teacher Alma Gonzalez.
Additionally, the American Canyon team will make its first-ever appearance at the California Academic Decathlon State Championship in March, having won the right to represent Napa County.
“I’m super excited” that the ACHS team will be competing at the state level, said Gonzalez.
News of the students’ achievements produced kudos from Napa Valley Unified School District Superintendent Patrick Sweeney, who offered his congratulations to Gonzalez and her team via an email.
“Thank you for your dedication to our students!” wrote Sweeney. “All the best to you and your team!”
ACHS finished third among 12 teams during the academic decathlon based on total points awarded to it (31,470).
The top teams — including Vanden High School in Fairfield and Casa Grande High School in Petaluma — will travel to Sacramento for the state championship scheduled for March 22-25.
Moving on to state was a product of strong performances by American Canyon students, plus the absence of St. Helena High School at this year’s North Bay Regional Academic Decathlon.
St. Helena High has been a perennial powerhouse at the competition, and has represented Napa County previously in Sacramento. But the loss of their coach prevented the school from fielding a team this year, according to Gonzalez.
If St. Helena had been there, Gonzalez said, ACHS might not have qualified for state.
“Casa Grande, Vanden, and St. Helena have consistently been the top three schools at NBRAD (North Bay Regional Academic Decathlon),” she said.
Gonzalez came away from Saturday’s event overjoyed after watching most of her team medal during the competition.
“Shout out to Heriberto Zavala with 9 [medals] and Lydia Davis with 6 [medals],” said Gonzalez. “Sadly, not everyone was able to medal, but we were able to medal in each category.”
She also had a message for ACHS students, parents and staff following their success: “If you see a decathlete this week, congratulate them on a job well done. I’m really proud of the work and effort they’ve contributed to the program, even those that were unable to medal.”
The team coach singled out special moments by her students that showed how they exceeded expectations and earned their berth to the state academic decathlon.
“We had the smallest Super Quiz team,” she said, referring to a key event, “and we were down a varsity student, which means that we were at a disadvantage, where other teams had 6 scores to be considered for their Super Quiz score, we only had 5 scores.”
Still, ACHS finished third in the Super Quiz, which was good enough to catapult them into their overall third-place finish and the opportunity to go to Sacramento.
<&underline>ACHS decathlete medalists</&underline>
Ramya Chandrasekaran: Gold in Language and Literature, Bronze in Science, and Gold in Speech.
Lydia Davis: Silver in Art, Bronze in Economics, Bronze in Music, Silver in Science, Gold in Social Science, and Bronze as an 11th grade Honors Student.
Rio Mabbayd: Silver in Music.
Sara Jahangiri: Bronze in Art, Bronze in Economics, and Bronze in Speech.
Barbara Taylor: Gold in Economics, Bronze in Interview, Gold in Language and Literature, and Silver in Social Science.
Heriberto Zavala: Silver in Art, Bronze in Economics, Silver in Essay, Gold in Interview, Silver in Math, Gold in Music, Gold in Science, Silver in Speech, and Gold as a 10th grade Varsity Student.