Schoolchildren Go for the Academic Gold

From a seat usually reserved for a Camarillo City Council member, Glenn Hunter answered questions in a confident voice.

Most of his answers were right, and the 12-year-old Santa Rosa School student took the gold medal for his age group in the English grammar competition at the Camarillo Academic Olympics. "I studied a little," the straight-A student said as he stepped off the dais in the City Council chambers.

Split into two age categories--fourth- through sixth-graders, and seventh- and eighth-graders--dozens of students vied for gold medals in nine subjects: mathematics, science, English grammar, U.S. history, geography, current events, creative writing, speech and art.

The contests, which will run through today, are the final round of the Academic Olympics that began early this year with more than 2,000 students from 19 public and private schools in the greater Camarillo area. The event is co-sponsored by the city and the Camarillo Boys & Girls Club.

"The idea behind it is giving kids recognition in any way we can," said Janna Visser, treasurer of Camarillo Academic Olympics. "It gives them self-esteem and encourages them to learn."

In the grammar competition, students were asked to find spelling and grammar errors in sentences and give definitions for words such as "synonym," "conjunction," "superlative" and "hyphen." Outside the council chambers, Becky Tittel, an eighth-grader from Las Colinas School, waited patiently for her turn. Her mother, Karen Tittel, was next to her.

"This is such a great program," Karen Tittel said. "It promotes something other than sports," adding quickly that she is not against sports; Becky plays basketball and soccer and rides horses.

On Tuesday, Becky appeared calm about the grammar contest ahead. "I may get a little nervous when the competition starts," she said. But for her, the competition is nothing new. She was in the math finals earlier in the day and in other finals two years ago.

The winners will receive their medals at an awards ceremony at Las Colinas School on March 22.

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