Campolindo High Returns as Champs in National Academic Decathlon

Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento. Photo: California Academic Decathlon.
Memorial Auditorium, Sacramento. Photo: California Academic Decathlon.

By Jonathan B. Lance

For the second year in a row, Campolindo High School’s Academic Decathlon team, representing the entire state of California, were recently earned National Champion status for medium-sized schools. 

Medium schools in this completion are high schools whose student population is between 650 and 1,300. Campolindo (California) was followed by New Jersey, 2nd place and Wisconsin, third place. 

When I found out we won Nationals the 2nd year in a row, I was incredibly excited,” says Campolindo’s Academic Decathlon coach Paul Verbanszky. 

[Previous: Campolindo HS Ranks Impressive No. 10 at CA State Academic Decathlon Championship.]

“The team has worked very hard to accomplish this. An opportunity like this does not come often in a lifetime. These are some of the finest students I have ever worked with in my 13 years of education!” 

Although Campolindo is a medium sized school, it placed 10th overall at the 2014 State Competition, held in Sacramento this past March, competing against schools several times its size. 

See story about Camplindo’s State Academic Decathlon results for details. “The overall winner, regardless of school size, physically goes to Nationals, Verbanszy continues. 

“The small and medium-sized schools champions –since a large school wins every year—get to compete online.” (The second-highest performing large school in each state also gets to compete online.)  

Here are the team and individual final results in the medium-school division on this Web page. Campolindo was well represented in the individual results, as well. 

Although Campolindo competed in the National Academic Decathlon virtual competition, winning schools are still awarded trophies and medals for their efforts, as well as scholarship money. 

In addition, U.S. Congressman George Miller came to the Campolindo campus this week to present the team with Congressional Recognition.  

“I am really proud of how far our school’s Academic Decathlon has come in the three years I have been in it, and how successful it has become,” says Campolindo Academic Decathlon member Christoph Steefel. Team member Graham Wade added, “I did not believe it at first, but I was really excited and happy that all of our hard work had paid off.” 

Verbanszky teaches AP psychology and government/economics, and has been Campolindo’s Academic Decathlon coach since 2005. His Academic Decathlon team is an after-school club with funding coming from generous donations and fundraising.  

It is a tremendous accomplishment to compete in the Nationals. 

He continues, “I am very proud of my students. And, our team gives a big thank you to the Contra Costa County Office of Education for all of their support and hard work with Academic Decathlon, so that the students can have such a positive experience.” 

Directed by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and with the assistance of community volunteers, the East Bay Regional Academic Decathlon provides an opportunity for high school students to compete as individuals and teams in a series of ten academic tests and demonstrations. 

The curriculum includes art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music, science, social science,essay, interview, speech (prepared and impromptu), and the Super Quiz™. Approximately, 170 high school students from 10 schools participated in the regional event. This year’s Academic Decathlon theme was World War I, and the Super Quiz™ focused on the areas the participating students had been preparing for with the comprehension portion of Academic Decathlon, e.g., science, art, economics, and literature. 

The Academic Decathlon  was first created by Dr. Robert Peterson, former Superintendent of Schools in Orange County, California. Firmly believing that everyone's learning potential can be maximized through competitive challenge, Dr. Peterson set in motion the contest that has since come to be recognized as the most prestigious high school academic team competition in the United States.  The program spread rapidly throughout the states due to the success and excitement it engendered.  USAD was founded in 1981. 



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