St. Francis High School's team captured first place in the Southern California Private School Academic Decathlon, and is one of 60 schools that will advance to the state competition in Sacramento March 13-16. The awards ceremony was held Feb. 15 at Bishop Alemany High School. The competition occurred the prior weekend.
The Academic Decathlon is a nationally organized scholastic competition with each team comprised of an equal number of A, B and C students. Students take examinations in language and literature, music, science, art, mathematics, economics, essay writing, speech, interview writing and super quiz. The private school competition included 29 teams from Southland schools. St. Francis scored 40,259 points in the event, besting the second place team by 637 points.
English teacher Dirk Dierking is the team's coach. The squad is comprised of seniors Andrew Marsh, Robert Zavala, Nikolai Starzak, Ryan Butler, Brendan Pasquini and Kevin Hischier; juniors Benjamin Dunst and John Papadopoulos; and freshman Roylance Bird. Each member of the team won individual medals, as well as silver medals for the Super Quiz and gold medals for the team championship. Dunst was also awarded a silver medal and a trophy for obtaining the second-highest score in the entire competition.
For the first time in its history, St. Francis fielded a second team. The second squad finished second in Division II of the competition and fifth overall.
Members of the second unit included Mario Ridings, Andrew Evans, Chris Ferro, Tyrone Rodriguez, Andrew Gonzalez, Nick Bruno, Nicholas Alderete and Chris Kokawa.
Summary of medals won: Benjamin Dunst: bronze in economics and music, gold in super quiz, speech, art, and language and literature; Roylance Bird: gold in interview writing; Andrew Marsh: silver in speech and art; Robert Zavala: bronze in super quiz, essay writing, art and music and gold in economics; Nikolai Starzak: silver in language and literature; Ryan Butler: bronze in speech; Brendan Pasquini: bronze in essay writing, art music, silver in mathematics and gold in interview writing; Kevin Hischier: silver in interview writing, economics, social science and gold in essay writing and mathematics; John Papadopoulos: bronze in economics and social science, silver in language and literature and super quiz and gold in music.