For Arthur Berchin, Taft High School’s academic decathlon coach, the district awards banquet in Los Angeles tonight promises to be an evening of almost unbearable suspense. “I always look forward to it with trepidation,” said Berchin, who coached the team from 1985 to 1989 and took over the position again last spring. “I’m very excited but also scared. You never know what the outcome is going to be until they open those sealed envelopes.”
About 1,300 people, representing academic decathlon teams, coaches and guests from 55 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, will gather tonight at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles to honor the winners of the district competition, which took place at Loyola Marymount University and Westchester High School on Nov. 20.
Woodland Hill’s Taft High, which has a history of success in the decathlon competitions, won a trip to the White House Rose Garden last year after placing second in the U. S. Academic Decathlon. This year, the team tied for first place with Marshall High School in Silver Lake in the Super Quiz portion of the district’s decathlon.
The Super Quiz is just one of 10 categories including written essays, and prepared and impromptu speeches that are part of the competition. Results for the other nine categories will be presented at tonight’s awards ceremony, and the top team will take part in the state competition in Stockton this spring. Michael Michrowski, one of the members of the Taft team, said the participants are finding it difficult to concentrate on anything but the coming ceremony.
“We’re all really jittery,” said Michrowski, 17. “But we all have strong feelings that even if we don’t win, we’ll come in with a lot of awards.”