While most Panthers sleep in and arrive at school no later than 7:30 a.m. (or at least, they should), a small group of students gather at B9 at 6:45 in the morning. These Panthers are no ordinary Panthers, they were specially chosen by Lynette Menter-Hartman, an AP/History teacher who doubles as the Acadec advisor, in order to be a part of Corona High’s Academic Decathlon; which was, for the first time ever, offered as a zero period. Also for the first time ever, Corona High was to enter two teams into the competition: the Red Team, Corona’s main team, and the Gold Team, Corona’s secondary team.
All during first semester, these decathletes spent every morning studying seven different subjects about the Academic Decathlon topic for this year: World War One. The decathletes studied the history, literature, art, music, mathematics, science, and even the economics of that era. Not only that, the decathletes also had to prepare to deliver two speeches, write an essay, and be interviewed by a panel of judges. Needless to say, the decathletes put in a lot of time and effort for their cause.
January 25th, 2014 was the first day of the competition and the day the decathletes delivered their speeches, wrote their essays, and sat through their interviews. Afterwards, each and every Panther felt as though they had performed excellently; each of them felt as though they had made a great impact on their judges and had exceeded their expectations.
The following week, the decathletes crammed like crazy in preparation for the upcoming Saturday; the second day of competing which would truly determine the results of the Riverside County Academic Decathlon Competition.
On Saturday, February 1st the subject testing began at around 8:00 a.m. and ended at around noon. Decathletes from all over the county took all seven of tests, fifty questions each (except the math test; that had only 35 questions) back-to-back. The tests were strenuous; the decathletes themselves were exhausted, but they still retained their optimism. And that optimism got them through the Super Quiz that took place after the subject tests.
This “Super Quiz” tested each division of each team (Varsity, Scholastic, and Honors) on 12 questions about any and all of the seven subjects, but giving the decathletes only 7 seconds to answer each one. While the Corona High teams did not do the best, they did do considerably well. Once the testing was finally over, the decathletes took pictures, shared some laughs, and celebrated a job well-done. Then, at around 4:30 p.m., the awards ceremony began.
At the awards assembly, the students who performed achieved the highest individual scores were given individual medals and the teams who achieved the highest score overall were rewarded with trophies. The ceremony started out well for the Panthers; two decathletes from Corona received the first medals of the night for their success in the Math portion of the testing and that made it seem as though Panthers would be receiving medals here and there throughout the evening.
However, it was not to be. Aside from the medals, given to the top scorer of each division of each team, only one more Panther received a medal that night; Vicky Le received a bronze medal for her essay. The majority of the medals were given out to students from Elsinore High School, West Valley High School, and, the big winner of the night, Hemet High School.
While the students of those three schools no doubt earned each medal they received, the Panthers felt as though they earned more than three medals and half a dozen consolation prizes. In the end, Corona’s top team, the Red Team, placed 7th whereas Corona’s second team, the Gold Team, placed 15th; in total there were 18 teams. Walking out of the theatre room where the ceremony took place, the Panthers were disappointed.
However, despite these less-than-satisfactory results, there was a silver lining. The Panthers may not have won this year, but that defeat only motivated them to work harder next year. They have realized their faults and recognized their opponents’ strengths.
Many of this year’s decathletes were brand new to the whole experience and had never experienced the bitter taste of defeat. Now that they have however, they know they must dedicate more time, effort, and passion than ever before if they hope to come out on top next year.
Junior Vicky Le, who is the current president of Corona High’s Academic Decathlon and has been a decathlete since her freshman year, had this to say about the results:
“AcaDec has definitely been a growing experience. The results of the competition were not exactly what we expected but we improved from last year! It has given us momentum to strive for the best next year. I am so proud to be a part of this nerd family, and a part of the rebirth of Academic Decathlon at Corona High!”
While they may accept this defeat, Vicky and her fellow decathletes will never forget. The results this year have only intensified the decathletes’ goal of bringing home Corona High’s first Academic Decathlon trophy.
In the end, can this defeat really be considered a loss? Or can it be seen as a wake-up call which will prompt the Panthers to work harder? Perhaps the writer Zig Ziglar said it best when he said, “If you learn from defeat, you have not really lost.”