Paul Revere Middle School’s AcaDeca Club Performs Well

The Paul Revere Middle School Aca- Deca Club competed in the Southern California Academic Pentathlon in Orange County in May.

Vying against teams from public and pri- vate middle schools, Revere’s sixth graders placed fourth in their division among 45 schools in seven divisions. The school’s two seventh-grade teams competed against 46 schools in six divisions and placed second and third in their division.

Out of 41 eighth-grade schools divided into seven divisions, the Revere team placed fourth in its division.

“I’m happy they did so well,” said team leader Dennis Hamanishi, a seventh grade history teacher. He was especially proud of his varsity students getting four perfect scores on the Super Quiz.

Members of the Paul Revere Acadeca Club: Front row, left to right, Alette Wells, Lena Jones, Paige Snepp, Majd Garmankani, Deanna Chun, Natasha Asamoa and Larry Smith. Middle row, left to right: Kevin Barrios, Alvin Carrillo, Michael Khojastegan, Ashley Ramos, Rachel Mejia, Jennifer Salvador, Eleanor Casparian and Francis Arellano. Back row, Assistant Principal Blakley Coe, left, and AcaDeca Coach Dennis Hamanishi.  Photo: Lesly Hall

Members of the Paul Revere Acadeca Club: Front row, left to right, Alette Wells, Lena Jones, Paige Snepp, Majd Garmankani, Deanna Chun, Natasha Asamoa and Larry Smith. Middle row, left to right: Kevin Barrios, Alvin Carrillo, Michael Khojastegan, Ashley Ramos, Rachel Mejia, Jennifer Salvador, Eleanor Casparian and Francis Arellano. Back row, Assistant Principal Blakley Coe, left, and
AcaDeca Coach Dennis Hamanishi.
Photo: Lesly Hall

Each year the pentathlon has an overarching theme, and this year it was India. The students received a copy of The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, on which they were tested in the competition. The competition included five subjects: language arts, math, science, history/social science and fine arts. Students participated through written tests, an essay and the game show- style Super Quiz.

“We always do well in math and language arts—we have strong departments at the school,” said Hamanishi, who also coaches the debate team and girls’ basketball.

When former principal Fern Somoza came to Revere from Granada Hills High School (the recent national winner in the Academic Decathlon), she wanted to start a similar program. Hamanishi, who has been teaching at Revere for 33 years, volunteered to run the club, starting in 2012. Last fall, he received the Lori Petrick Innovation Grant from the Palisades Charter Schools Foundation for the AcaDeca program. The grant money is used to support the program, including buying books for each team member.

The extracurricular club meets once a week during lunch period, with 30 to 60 members from all three grade levels participating.

The group has in-school competitions during the first semester, and all-star teams are selected to attend the Southern Cali-

fornia regional competition. Many of the students stay with the club even if they are not on the all-star team.

Each team has three students in three categories based on GPA—honors, scholas- tic and varsity—equating to an A, B or C average.

The Super Quiz is the only part of the competition that can be observed by the public. Each GPA team goes to the gym floor and gets 10 multiple-choice questions on a written form. The question is also read aloud by an emcee, and each student has 10 seconds after the question is finished to mark his or her answer. Teams can receive medals for top Super Quiz scores as well as overall scores.

“I’m very proud of them,” said Blakley Coe, Revere assistant principal. “Fern Somoza thought it would be fun to use academics and compete. Our goal is for kids to go to the high school academic decathlon.” PaliHi’s academic decathlon team is coached by science teacher Gregg Strouse, who welcomes the Revere graduates to join the team.

The eighth graders are now tutoring the sixth graders in the competition. “They gain self-awareness,afeelingofaccomplishment and self-discipline,” said Hamanishi of his club members. “There are guidelines given to them in the study guide but it is up to them to study for it.”

“It’s a wonderful program,” said Kristin Rigby, program specialist with the Orange County Department of Education, who runs the region’s pentathlon. “It’s a very vigorous program and the kids grow from it.”

By Laura Abruscato
Contributing Writer

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