Oxnard wins Ventura County Academic Decathlon

Students are holding their awards.
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© Tiffany israel/OUHSD
The Oxnard High School Academic Decathlon team posses with their many metals, plauques, and trophies including their Ventura County Academic Decathlong Championship trophy. © Tiffany israel/OUHSD
Oxnard High School has won the Ventura County Academic Decathlon for the second year in a row and will go on to the state championship in Sacramento next month.

Westlake High School took second, and Oak Park High School placed third. Twelve teams participated in the competition.

Michael Chang, a student at Westlake High School, earned the highest individual score.

Winners were announced Monday night at Pacifica High School in Oxnard in an auditorium about two-thirds full of camera-toting parents and cheering students.

“I just want to cry,” said Natalia Russell, a senior at Oxnard, whose team members often carried a stuffed penguin with them in their many trips to the stage. “We worked so hard for this.”

Oxnard, which won the competition’s Super Quiz on Saturday, also went to the state championships in 2007 and 2008 as wild card teams.

This year’s win wasn’t easy, Oxnard coach Chris Conte said.

“Senioritis kicked in for a couple of weeks, and I needed to get them back on track,” Conte said. “But they pulled through and pushed hard the past few weeks.”

The theme of this year’s Academic Decathlon was the Great Depression. For the competition, students take multiple-choice tests in language and literature, math, science, social sciences, economics, music and art. They also give two speeches, write an essay and have an interview.

Monday evening’s events began with four students giving speeches, three of them selected by their fellow students. Those students were Michal Xi, Thousand Oaks High School; Eugene Ng, Newbury Park High School; Hannah Maryanski, Ventura High School; and Aaron Demsetz, Westlake.

Ng gave his speech on puberty, talking about his voice cracking — “the epitome of puberty” — and mood swings, noting that boys have them, too

“Puberty is our misunderstood friend,” he said.

In addition to Oxnard, Westlake, Oak Park, Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park and Ventura, teams this year came from Buena, Camarillo, Channel Islands, Hueneme, Pacifica and Rio Mesa high schools.

Chenxi Song, a senior at Thousand Oaks, has been on her school’s team for four years.

“I feel kind of melancholy,” she said. “It’s kind of bittersweet. Everybody had such a good experience.”

Members of Oxnard’s winning team, in addition to Russell, are: Danielle Bonucchi, Ian Cossman, Sarah Watte, Chase Bennett, Jeffrey Moore, Kyree Childress, Sasan Samadzadeh and Spencer Stevenson. All are seniors.

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