The Folsom High School Academic Decathlon team took the Sacramento County championship on Feb. 5, beating 24 high schools in the county.
Most importantly, the Folsom Bulldogs beat the Bella Vista Broncos, the high school that fielded dominating teams since the competition started in 1980.
The Carmichael high school, in the San Juan Unified School District, finished first from 1988 to 1992, again in 1994 to 1996, 1998 to 2006 and in 2008 and 2009. This year it scored second, as it did last year.
Folsom started getting into competition in 2004, when it won fifth place, and moved up to second the following year. In 2007, Folsom took top honors for the first time, bumping Bella Vista to third behind Del Campo High School.
Bella Vista got revenge the following two years, with Folsom trailing right behind. Then Folsom flipped the rankings in 2010 and again this year.
This year’s Folsom team of seven young men and five young women is coached by Melinda Wilson, World Language teacher. This is Wilson’s 14th year as coach.
The 2011 team members are: Topher Anderson, Austin Kelley, Yiran Li. Spencer Buelna, Marisa Franz, Janice Chan, Tim Bai, Allan Zhou, Allison Hamer, Ben Rosenfeld, Sydney Pierce and Emmie Pope.
The Academic Decathlon is modeled after the Olympic athletic event. Contestants compete in 10 academic areas: Mathematics, Art, Music, Language/Literature, Economics, Social Science, Essay, Speech, Interview and Super Quiz (Science).
The teams are designed to consist of three Honors students (“A” grade average), three Scholastic students (“B” average) and three Varsity students (“C” average), plus alternates. They compete in written and oral exams held at Inderkum High School, in Natomas Unified School District.
Students prepared for the competition with months of study on this year’s theme, The Great Depression. At the final event, the Super Quiz, the questions were on the topic of “An Introduction to Geology,” based on the Dust Bowl period of U.S history.
The top scorers were honored Feb. 9 at an awards banquet hosted by the Sacramento County Office of Education at the Sacramento State University Ballroom, where they received gold, silver or bronze medals. Tianyu (Tim) Bai was Folsom’s top-scoring team member. Benjamin Rosenfeld received the Team Leadership Award. SAFE Credit Union provided $10,000 in scholarships to be distributed among top-scoring students.
Coach Wilson said, “I am extremely proud of this team. They have worked very hard.”
Folsom advances to the California Academic Decathlon, which will be held March 11-14 in Sacramento. The state winner will go on to the U.S. Academic Decathlon April 27-30 in Charlotte, N.C.