Fallbrook High Wins Academic Contest

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Fallbrook High School narrowly outpointed fellow North County competitor Torrey Pines High for top honors in the 1989 San Diego County Academic Decathlon, racking up 39,492 points out of a possible 60,000.

Torrey Pines in Del Mar, winner for the previous three years, totaled 39,162 for second place, just ahead of bronze winner La Jolla High in the seventh annual competition.

The winners were announced Tuesday night at a special banquet for members of the 44 county teams that participated in the all-day academic event Nov. 18. The decathlon recognizes and rewards students with solid, well-rounded academic backgrounds and encourages schools to showcase their academic achievers.

"This shows the public how much students can do on their own, to work as a team in academics" as they more commonly do in athletics, said Joyce Esbenson, Fallbrook English teacher and coach of the team.

Fallbrook, which won the first event in 1983, will now compete in the statewide contest March 8-10 in Bakersfield. Last year, Torrey Pines finished eighth in the state.

In the county competition, schools send a nine-member team that must include students with varied backgrounds. Three students must have "A" or honor averages, three must have "B" or scholastic averages, and three must have overall "C" or varsity averages in order to ensure that the competition is balanced. Judging is done by volunteers selected by the San Diego County Office of Education.

The teams compete in multiple-choice tests in economics, fine arts, grammar and literature, mathematics, science and history. They also submit essays, make prepared and impromptu speeches and face an oral interview.

Parents and friends provided an enthusiastic audience for the final Super Quiz portion this year, which pits the teams against each other to measure quick recall. All Super Quiz questions centered on American Indians.

Each team has a coach, usually a teacher who volunteers to work with the team after school and weekends.

Esbenson said she had the students "sit around the house, play with the cat and dog, and talk about subjects, get lectures from teachers who came over, go to the refrigerator and pull out a Coke or root beer--just have an education in an informal, friendly atmosphere."

"If all education could be taught that way, we'd have all brilliant students," she said, adding that the "C" students are not necessarily slower achievers but often are those who need the lure of a decathlon to "turn on, be motivated" in their studies.

In subject competitions, Torrey Pines won the Super Quiz, fine arts and essay portions. La Jolla took mathematics, science and economics. Fallbrook captured language and literature, and social science. Orange Glen in Escondido scored highest in speech and El Capitan in Lakeside won the interview competition.

The top overall student was Soleak Sim from Fallbrook High School, followed by Rebecca Shen of Torrey Pines and David Schwager of Patrick Henry in San Carlos among honors students.

Josh Neeley of Valhalla High in El Cajon was first among scholastic scholars and Bill Alexander of Fallbrook took first place in the varsity average individual competition.

Rounding out the top 10 schools in order of finish were: Orange Glen; Valhalla; Vista; Patrick Henry; El Capitan; Rancho Buena Vista in Vista and Bonita Vista in Chula Vista.

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