DHS Academic Decathlon Team 1st Among Small Schools

Andrew Knapp, Jennifer Calderon and Garrett Shults

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Jennifer Calderon said she didn’t feel comfortable as she began the interview portion of the 35th annual Stanislaus County Academic Decathlon on Friday.

You sure couldn’t tell from the results.

Calderon was one of three Denair High School students to win gold medals as the Coyotes finished an impressive third overall. Lewis Koehn and Noah Johnson also earned individual championships for Denair, which was the highest-performing small school for the fifth year in a row.

Oakdale and Ceres – schools with many times the enrollment of Denair – finished first and second, respectively, out of 12 high schools.

The event began Friday night with the speech and oral interview competitions at Enochs High School in Modesto. It finished Saturday afternoon when hundreds of the area’s brightest students converged on the Modesto High School gym for individual tests in math, language and literature, economics, science, social science, art and music.

Athletes are divided into three divisions based on grade-point average – honors, varsity and scholastic. Each school enters three students per division. There also is a category for alternates. Many of the tests revolve around a theme; this year’s was “New Alternatives in Energy: Ingenuity and Innovation.”

Calderon, a senior, has competed in three decathlons before, but said she wasn’t confident heading into Friday’s interview in the honors division. This year, there were two judges instead of three to conduct the one-on-one interviews.

“It’s nerve-wracking in the sense it’s very intimate. You’re only a few feet away from the judges,” she said. Continue reading “DHS Academic Decathlon Team 1st Among Small Schools” »

DHS to Compete in Academic Decathlon Competition

SCOE Academic Decathlon Logo

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Months of intense study, Saturday cram sessions and practice tests are over for the Denair High School Academic Decathlon team. The 16 students are as prepared as they can be and enter the countywide competition expecting to continue an impressive legacy – Denair has won the small-school championship in Stanislaus County the past five years.

“We have high hopes,” said first-year coach Sean Pham.

The 35th annual countywide competition is a two-day series of oral interviews, speeches and tests revolving around this year’s theme of “Renewable Energy.”

Friday night, Denair and more than a dozen other teams will gather at Enochs High School in Modesto for the speech and interview portions of the competition. Three judges will talk individually with each team member. Saturday, everyone moves to Modesto High School for tests in math, language and literature, economics, science, social science, art and music.

The overall champion and runner-up regardless of enrollment advance to the state finals in March in Sacramento.

The members of Denair’s team are Brandon Bettencourt, Alexis Brantley, Jennifer Calderon, Jacklyn Gonzales, Noah Johnson, Ryan Kisner, Andrew Knapp, Louis Koehn, Carter Lawson, Shawn McVeigh, Eva Olivas, Jose Orozco, Alexis Padilla, Jordan Sandoval, Garrett Schults and David Sweeten.

The team has been practicing since before school started in August, Pham said. Denair is one of the few schools that set aside a period each day for Academic Decathlon students. The Coyotes also have cram sessions every other Saturday, where former students often return to serve as mentors. Continue reading “DHS to Compete in Academic Decathlon Competition” »