Triton Currents

The student-run news site of Pacifica High School

The student-run news site of Pacifica High School

Triton Currents

The student-run news site of Pacifica High School

Triton Currents

Acadeca – It’s a Calling

As a senior Acadeca student, I wanted to document the incredible experience that I was a part of.

Many people to this day have no clue what Academic Decathlon is or what we do there. I wanted to shine some light on this amazing competition before I leave it all behind me for good. I have been in Academic Decathlon for 3 years now & I’m going to tell you about my experience as well as why all students should make an effort to join it. I am a senior at Pacifica High School, but I joined Academic Decathlon during my sophomore year. It being the first year back at school after quarantine, I was not a very social person & I was always looking for a place where I felt I belonged. I looked to my older siblings to see what kind of things they were in during their time in high school. My older brother mentioned how he was in Academic Decathlon. I didn’t take much interest at first, but that stuck with me. One day, I was watching the movie Spiderman: Homecoming. I noticed how the main character, Peter Parker, was in Academic Decathlon at his high school. Once I saw this, I became interested. Now after gaining some more information about Academic Decathlon, I quickly realized that the real thing was not at all what I saw in this popular comic book movie. In fact, the movie portrayed it more like what is called Knowledge Bowl. I also joined this at a later point that year. Anyway, after some encouragement from my brother, I decided to join it anyway. I found out that the advisor for Academic Decathlon at Pacifica was none other than my English teacher, Gabriel Valdez. I was excited to join; however, when I joined there were only less than a handful of people in the club (it was a club at the time since a class had to consist of 25 students).After about a month in this club, I noticed that everyone had dropped it. Eventually, Mr. Valdez came up to me & asked if I wanted to continue to be in the club. He didn’t at all expect me to as everyone else had dropped. At that moment I had to decide what kind of student I wanted to be. And believe it or not, I felt happy in this small club. I looked at him & said I wanted to stick with it. He warned me that I had a lot of work ahead of me if I wanted to participate in the district wide competition. I told him I was ready to take up the challenge.

Eventually I made my way through the competition, taking the objective tests, giving a speech on quarantine, getting interviewed, & taking the super quiz. I was extremely nervous during all of this. However, my perseverance wouldn’t allow me to quit. I went through with the competition & I actually ended up doing pretty good for a single member of a team not yet made. I was so ecstatic with my performance that I decided to take it up again in my Junior year. This time, I had a team; a team of outstanding students. We were a small team, but we were a team. For the first time, I learned to work in a team & help build up my teammates. That year we did the same tasks, but this time it felt easier. I feel like it was not only because I had experience, but I also had people to lean on for assistance & encouragement. We ended up doing exceptionally well that year, with one of our teammates, Areli Rodriguez, earning the Highest Individual Score award. “During the awards ceremony, when I read my name off the screen for the top 10, it felt surreal. I did not expect to be caught off guard, but it was cool to see that I was smart enough to receive that type of reward. Something lit up in me that day.” (Areli Rodriguez)

First up in the competition is the objective tests. The tests which call upon everything you’ve learned in the past semester (according to that year’s theme). These are online tests & ultimately set the bar for how you do in the rest of the competition. Next up is the Speech & Interview. When the time comes, you will write a speech on a topic important to you, something that you can verbally communicate with passion & confidence. I did my final speech on possible free healthcare in the U.S. The interview is exactly that. You will be judged by two people & you have to have great body language, eye contact, & speak with assertiveness but also be relaxed at the same time. Lastly, is the Super Quiz. This is the most exciting part of the competition as this is where you really work as a team. You & many other schools will be in one location, answering questions as a moderator presents them. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes as we had a full class of people ready to participate. We had a team of around 20 people. This was everything I hoped for for Acadeca. We could do so much more as a class instead of a small club. Now even though it was labeled a class, our main focus was preparing for the competition. We went through the same process of the competition & preparing for it. The only difference was this time, we could actually place. After much hard work from my team, we did not place overall. But we managed to place 1st in our entire division! This was a first for Pacifica & a first for us. But this wasn’t only due to preparation for the competition. This was months of team bonding & building, learning our strengths & our weaknesses.  I had a dream of making regionals & maybe even nationals. That didn’t happen for me or my team. But that doesn’t mean it can’t ever happen. I believe that one day, the right group of students will come along & make that dream a reality. Sure, I can’t be along for the ride, but just knowing that it could happen is all I need. This is why I want to shed light on Acadeca, the whole purpose of why I am writing this article. Nothing changed my life more than this. In it, I made new friends with people I never thought I would & I even reconnected with old ones. I learned many valuable skills such as public speaking & teamwork which can help me in the real world. I get why many would be scared & shy away from Acadeca, but if you are the least bit interested, you should give it a chance, because I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

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