Academic Winners Prep for State Finals

Valley students who placed in regional competitions for academic and creative excellence last weekend are on their way to state finals later this spring.

A team from St. Bernardine of Siena School in Woodland Hills and two Burbank schools, Burbank Elementary and John Burroughs High School, won first-place awards in the Odyssey of the Mind annual competition in Pasadena, where students demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

The St. Bernardine seven-member team won in the Pageant Wagon category, creating a mobile stage show on a shoestring $100 budget. The team's handmade marionette circus emerged from ordinary household items like slab wood and checkered picnic tablecloths--all towed by a powered concoction of old bicycle tires and PVC pipe.

Students from Burbank Elementary also took first place in the camouflage category, creating a structure out of balsa wood and glue. Burroughs students won two first-place awards in their age group, one in camouflage and one for their Pageant Wagon creation.

Ninety teams representing some 1,000 private and public school students participated.

Winners now go to the state finals March 28 at UC Davis, where they will compete with 200 teams.

In another competition, junior high students at St. Mel School in Woodland Hills defeated 70 other Catholic schools from Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to win first place in the Archdiocesan Academic Decathlon last Saturday.

"We put a lot of work into it, but it was worth it," said Vickie Cantore, 13.

St. Mel placed first in religion, math and fine arts events and in a grueling group logic matchup.

"I went home and went to bed exhausted," said eighth-grader Nick Heller, also a first-place winner in the fine arts competition.

St. Mel students will compete next in the Archdiocesan Academic state finals in Sacramento on May 3.

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