Taft High Wins State Academic Decathlon

Times Staff Writer

A jubilant team of students from Taft High School of Woodland Hills defeated 44 California high schools to win the state Academic Decathlon for the second consecutive year, officials announced Saturday.

The Taft team, representing the Los Angeles Unified School District, earned 46,838 of 60,000 possible points in the 10-event academic contest that included written exams in subjects such as physics, mathematics and fine arts. Beverly Hills High School, representing Los Angeles County schools not in the unified district, finished second with 46,070 points.

Taft team members leaped and cheered when the results were announced at a luncheon Saturday.

“I feel incredible,” said Marc Sarti, the Taft team member who scored the most points of any student in the contest. “I can’t believe it.”


To Go to National Event

The nine-member Taft team and their coach, Arthur Berchin, will travel to Providence, R.I, next month to represent California in the national academic decathlon.

Berchin said he was surprised at the victory because of the stiff competition.

“They all did a terrific job,” he said of his team members.


Jane Wortman, coach of the Beverly Hills team, said: “Second place is never as good as first . . . but I’m very proud. The kids said the tests were harder” than in the competition for the county title.

There were no returning members from last year’s Taft academic decathlon team. That group won the state championship, but lost narrowly in the 1988 national finals to J. J. Pearce High School of Richardson, Tex.

Beat 52 Schools

Taft advanced to the state contest this year after defeating 52 Los Angeles district schools in November.

High school team members took written examinations and gave speeches Thursday and Friday. On Friday, the Taft team also won the Super Quiz, the only event of the contest open to the public.

In 1987, a team from Marshall High School in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles won both the state and national academic decathlon titles.