Loses to Texas School Twice in 2 Years : Beverly Hills 2nd in Academic Bout

Times Staff Writer

After beating Palisades High School to compete in the national finals of the U.S. Academic Decathlon, Beverly Hills High was defeated by the same team that beat it last year.

The event ended Wednesday in the tension-filled auditorium at Loyola Marymount University and the winners were announced Friday. The last phase of the event was a super-quiz on a theme of "futurism," with students from 34 states answering 30 mind-boggling questions based on John Naisbitt's book, "Megatrends."

A cheer erupted from the sizable Beverly Hills contingent when a proctor indicated that Joey Waxman, the only junior on the six-student Beverly Hills team, had correctly answered the first five questions. Waxman returned to the bleachers and one by one his teammates followed, each answering five questions.

The event was critical. The team to beat was from J. J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Tex., the same team that kept Beverly Hills out of first place in last year's competition.

The event ended with California and Texas each scoring 24 points, three points less than the 27 earned by students from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. On Friday, when awards were made at the Airport Hilton, Texas took first place overall, with 46,976 points. Beverly Hills had 46,504 points.

But Beverly Hills still had something to cheer about: Yuk-Lung Ha, who competed in the honors category, took a gold medal in social science and science.

Waxman, competing in the scholastic category, received two gold medals, one in mathematics and one in grammar and literature. Waxman also earned a bronze medal in social science and economics and a silver medal in fine arts.

Todd Gooch, competing in the varsity category, received gold medals in social science and fine arts and bronze medals in mathematics, economics and the interview category.

Saul Kotzubay, in the varsity category, earned a bronze medal in social science, silver medals in mathematics and fine arts and a gold medal in the interview category.

Other team members from Beverly Hills were Lori Gottlieb and Yaniv Tepper and alternates Kent Kawahara and Chris Holt. All are seniors except Waxman.

The test materials and competition study guides for the decathlon were developed and authenticated by World Book Inc.

In one of the super-quiz questions, students were asked whether astronomy, biology, theology, chemistry or physics would be the most important science of the 21st Century. The correct answer was biology.

Other questions concerned future trends in economics, industry, science, government and politics.

The competition was created in 1968 by Robert Peterson, Orange County superintendent of schools. In 1979, the decathlon was expanded to include high schools throughout California. The first national competition was held in 1982.

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