News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.

Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary Students Fare Well in First Academic Decathlon

by Anne Donofrio-Holter

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For their first time competing in the Southern California Private Schools Academic Decathlon, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary students have much to be proud of, winning 19 individual medals, five of them gold.

“Being our first year, the students performed beyond expectations,” said Academic Decathlon coach Edgar Salmingo.  “We truly made our presence known as an academic powerhouse among local private schools.”

Even more impressive, according to Salmingo, in his six years being involved in academic decathlons, “this is the first time every student has won an individual medal and we had a winner in all ten events.”

Students are tested in ten events that require knowledge in many academic disciplines including art, economics, language and literature, math, music, science and social science.  Usually science or social science is chosen for the Super Quiz.  There are also three subjective events, essay, interview and speech, that are graded by judges.  The theme of this year’s event was Russia.

According to Salmingo, starting a program from the ground up is always challenging.

“Recruiting students, retaining students and maintaining their interest in something that had not yet been experienced took some doing,” he said.  “Competition rules require at least three “A” students, three “B” students and three “C” students.  Convincing “C” students to take part in an academic extracurricular activity proved to be another obstacle.”

However, when all was said and done, most students came away with an experience well worth their time and effort.

“I gained a higher level of self esteem and also the motivation to live up to my potential,” said junior Mia Cornejo.  “I learned to be comfortable in my own skin.  By winning, I feel I can push myself to the limit.  It taught me a lot about myself and capabilities I never knew I had.”

“I got more out of it than I thought I would,” said sophomore Isabel Lopez.  “I imagined joining the Decathlon would just be cramming my brain with tidbits about Russia, but it was so much more than that.  I have more confidence in myself, the skills and knowledge to speak in front of people without fear, information that will benefit me in the future and I connected with so many amazing and intelligent people who I don’t think of as just teammates anymore, but as friends.  I don’t regret joining the Decathlon one bit.”

“I wanted to be involved in something that was new to the school,” said senior Diana Parra. “In doing do, I gained self-confidence, learned excellent people skills and gained knowledge of the most random topics anyone could think of like Russian literature and the history of Russian music.”

“As a school, Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary takes price in the accomplishments of its students,” said David Chambers, principal.  “This showing represents years of combined educational support provided by all our teachers.  Many thanks go out to them for preparing our students for success.”

Congratulations to senior Jack Beltran (silver medal – math), junior Mia Cornejo (gold medal – speech/silver medal – interview), junior Emily Lopez (silver medal – music), sophomore Isabel Lopez (bronze medal – speech), senior Nick Moreno (gold medal – art, economics, speech/silver medal – essay, language-literature, science, social science/bronze medal – interview), junior Kimberly Nguyen (bronze medal – math), senior Diana Parra (silver medal – speech/bronze medal – language-literature, social science) and junior Rachel Sysiong (gold medal – music/silver medal – art).

The Southern California Private School Academic Decathlon is a recognized participant under the California Academic Decathlon and the United States Academic Decathlon Program.


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News of the San Gabriel Valley since 1966.
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary Students Fare Well in First Academic Decathlon