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ACADECA breaks record at Nationals

Rebecca Margolin

The school’s Academic Decathlon (ACADECA) team brought home their tenth national title, April 27, with nine students total, who worked diligently throughout the year to prepare for their competition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“We try to do things as a team. [We] hit one subject hard, try to test what we don’t and do know, and then move on, rinse and repeat,” junior Darren Du said. “[At first it was] just a lot of reading[and] a lot of mutual testing. Gradually it became fun even though it wasn’t in the first place.”
The immense support of the group was an essential part of their success. Without the strength of the team, the journey and process wouldn’t have been as fulfilling.
“The only person that can harm you during this entire process is yourself if you don’t seek out that help [from the team],” senior Jaydon Escobedo said. “Everyone is there to help you throughout the entire [process], even after.”
Through their hard work and determination, they achieved many outstanding placements such as winners of the Team Super Quiz, Division 1 National Champions and of course overall National Champions.
In addition to these team accomplishments, there were many individual ones with Darren Du winning seven medals, Jacob Faye winning eight, Willa Porter winning six, Lincoln Webster winning eight, Ambika Chikara winning seven, Eva Konstantini winning two, Adra Ellis winning nine, Niki Safaie winning three and Jayden Escobedo winning two.
“The journey with [the team] was amazing, but winning with all of them was even better,” senior Eva Konstantini said. “[We’ve] spent countless hours, days, months, weeks studying for one moment and second place just wouldn’t have cut it.”
An astonishing and well-deserved win was received by the ACADECA team and left all the team members extremely shocked.
“We all honestly couldn’t believe we were hearing our name on that speaker,” Konstantini
said. “We all got up and we were looking at each other like we were confused. The tears didn’t even start coming out of my eyes until days later when I finally processed that we are national champions in [the] Academic Decathlon.”
Though they achieved an incredible feat and broke a record for number of nationals won, they all remarked how the most rewarding part was the experience and friends they made along the way.
“I love my teammates just how we’ve grown closer over the years,” Escobedo
said. “[We’ve] turned from strangers to friends and now we’re basically family.”
From friends, to teammates to family, their bond helped strengthen their ability to reach their achievements. Their reasons for joining the program varied, with many wanting to improve themselves or prove that they were capable enough.
“[I joined because] I knew that I wanted to restore a lot of my academic confidence,” senior Ambika Chikkara said. “I took a bunch of hard classes in high school and some of the times I would feel bad about myself, like I wasn’t doing good enough in this class.”
Being a part of the program caused them to learn about new and diverse subjects that revealed a new passion.
“It’s great to learn about the wide variety of subjects I wouldn’t have known about without ACADECA,” Du said. “It’s just great to dip my toes into all the interesting subjects that I find are a bit rewarding.”
Though most of the members will be graduating this year, the experiences and connections they created this last year will last forever.
“From the beginning, I knew that my team was something special,” Chikkara said. “Each and every single one of my team members just work so hard and I’m just so glad that I got to be part of a once in a lifetime experience with them.”

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Victoria Matz
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