In a raucous, cheer-filled explosion of joy, Marshall High School won the Los Angeles school district's Super Quiz, the "College Bowl" of local high school academic competition.
Six jubilant team members from Marshall, who beat second-place Taft High School of Woodland Hills by giving correct answers to 44 of 48 questions about the U.S. Constitution, said their dream now is to do well enough in nine other academic tests they took behind closed doors Saturday to beat rival Palisades High School in overall scoring in the city's annual academic decathlon.
The victor of the citywide competition will meet Los Angeles County's No. 1 school at the state academic decathlon. The favorite for the county title is Beverly Hills High School.
"Incredible!" said Marshall coach David Tokofsky when the scores of all 53 city schools were tallied. "If we can win this decathlon we can get Beverly Hills."
Meanwhile, La Canada High School won the Super Quiz competition among 24 non-city schools that gathered in Torrance on Saturday for the county schools division of the decathlon. Beverly Hills High did not place among the top three county schools on Super Quiz, but spokesman Dick Sholseth said that school, California's long-time leader in the decathlon, was leading in six closed-door academic tests on subjects such as science and literature.
While winning the Super Quiz is a feather in each school's cap, it does not clinch the city or county division title in the increasingly popular academic competition, which leads to a state and national decathlon.
Team members must score high on math, science, fine arts, economics, literature, language, social science, an essay, a speech and an interview, in addition to the Super Quiz, school officials said.
"I'm just thrilled," said Marshall team member Silva Darbinian, 17. "We worked so hard on this."
A team from Marshall, in the Los Feliz-Silverlake area, last year abruptly halted suburban Palisades' long winning streak.
Team members from Palisades, in Pacific Palisades, tied for fifth place in the city's Super Quiz, but they held out hope Saturday that they scored well enough in the academic subjects earlier in the day to capture the division victory.
"It was really nerve-wracking," one Palisades student said of Super Quiz.
First Question a Stumper
Indeed, the first quiz question, posed by "2 on the Town's" hostess Melody Rogers, stumped several students from the 53 schools:
"Bicameralism is an example of: A. Checks and balances, B. Executive organization, C. Federalism, D. Judicial review or E. Separation of Powers." The answer, which several students missed, was checks and balances.
Several other schools have consistently scored in the city's top 10 in the past five years and could unseat Palisades and Marshall when final scores are tabulated.
For instance, third place in the Super Quiz went to Chatsworth High School, which has been among the top teams in the city's overall competition in recent years.
In the county division, several schools are hoping to break Beverly Hills High's five-year winning streak. Beverly Hills not only has won the county division every year, but has been named California champion three years running and has placed second in the national competition three times.
On Saturday, several traditionally high-scoring schools did their best to topple that winning streak. Included among the possible favorites are La Canada High School and West High School in Torrance, which tied for second place in the Super Quiz on Saturday with Saugus High School and Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights.
Team and individual winners from the county will be announced on Nov. 23. The city's winners will be named on Dec. 3.