The Burbank High Academic Decathlon Team won first place in their division at the California State Championships in Sacramento recently. The 2015-16 school year marks the sixth year in a row the BHS team has gone to the State Championships.
Burbank High School’s Academic Decathlon team for 2015-16 are Roy Kim, Harika Kottakota, Lisa Bok, Parthvi Kothari, Hiral Ashani, Dilfuza Ibragimova, Lucine Karapetian, Ethan Yang and Nihaar Kothari. The students are coached by BHS English teacher Val Beidelman.
“Academic Decathlon, a nationwide program, does not study trivia,” commented Beidelman.
For the 2015-16 year, the teams across the nation were charged with investigating Modern Indian history broken into ten areas, thus the “Decathlon” of the title, she explained.
BHS’ team studied “India – based Economics, Science, Art, Music, Literature, throw in Math, Essay, Speech, an Interview and we have Academic Decathlon,” said Beidelman. “Each student on a team of nine, studies and competes in ten subject areas.”
“In keeping with the Burbank High School tradition, each year we wear garb that reflects what we have studied. This year we chose to be the national animal of India: Bengal Tigers.”
Teams receive the curriculum in May each year for the following year and begin studies right away. Team members meet and research all summer, and when school starts, students meet Monday through Friday after school and on Saturdays.
Decathletes spend ten months in preparation and attend multiple competitions. The highest scoring teams from each county are invited to the State Championships.
All students are eligible to participate in Academic Decathlon. Burbank High School has both a Varsity and a Junior Varsity team of nine students each.
Each team consists of nine competitors: three students of “A”, three of “B” and three of “C” grade point averages.
“Students are selected to represent BHS based on in-house testing, multiple competitions throughout the year and a major competition in January,” said Beidelman. “Students often join as freshmen and stay in Academic Decathlon through their high school years.”
For the 2015 – 2016 season, the Burbank High Academic Decathlon team earned the highest total score for all ten subjects for first place and won the first place trophy in the Super Quiz event.
BHS broke some records this season, noted Beidelman.
“At county competition, seniors Roy Kim, Harika Kottakota and Lisa Bok broke 8000 points, so their names will be placed on the almost impossible-to-achieve 8000 Plaque in Coach Beidelman’s room. Only nineteen students at BHS have earned this honor,” she said.
For the first time in the 32–year history of BHS Academic Decathlon, a BHS student earned more than 9000 points.
Kottakota achieved a score of 9027 and the Honors Bronze Medal/Third Place Overall, in the State for total score in the ten subjects. Kottakota will also have a plaque dedicated to her distinguished score.
Yang earned the Varsity Bronze Medal/Third Place Overall in the State for his total score in the ten subjects.
“The entire Burbank Unified School district is extremely proud of our Academic Decathlon scholars,” commented Burbank Unified Superintendent Matt Hill.
“It takes a team to accomplish great work. All nine members of the team distinguished themselves in individual and team events bringing home a grand total of 37 gold, silver and bronze medals as well as top-10 rankings in all subject areas,” said Beidelman.