Local News

Saturday, Feb 02 2013 07:32 PM

They were Russian to victory

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Maricopa High's Ashlee Erwin listens to a question during the "Super Quiz" portion of Saturday's annual academic decathlon at Bakersfield High School.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Students cheer on their favorite team Saturday at Bakersfield High School after they got a correct answere in the "Super Quiz" portion of the Academic Decathlon.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    The BHS gym was full of students competing in the annual Academic Decathlon with the defending champs form BHS facing off against 19 other area high school teams to compete during the Super Quiz portion.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Foothill High's Israel Garcia and other teammates wait to see if they got a correct answer during the "Super Quiz," Saturday.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian


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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Arvin High's Angel Rivero, left, Carlos Vasquez, and Edgar Campos, right, compete in Saturday's Academic Decathlon at BHS.

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    By Casey Christie / The Californian

    Bakersfield High's academic decathletes Caitlin Williams, and Mike Hudspeth listen to questions Saturday at BHS during the Academic Decathlon.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Never has the name Vladimir Lenin drawn so much applause in Kern County. Cheers thundered inside the Bakersfield High School gym Saturday afternoon once the mediator of the county's Academic Decathlon announced the answer to this question:

"Who returned from exile in Finland to lead the revolutionaries?"

Related Info

Winners of the 33rd annual Kern County Academic Decathlon

First, Stockdale High School; second, Bakersfield; third, Wasco; fourth, Cesar E. Chavez; fifth, Frontier; sixth, Arvin; seventh, Liberty; eighth, Garces Memoria; ninth, Highland; tenth, Independence.

Each school's team consisted of a maximum of nine students: three "A" (honor), three "B" (scholastic) and three "C" (varsity) entrants. They competed against other students in the same divisions. The team compiling the most points captured first place. Individual medals were also awarded to first, second and third place finishers in each category and division.

Overall individual top scores in this year's Academic Decathlon went to:

Honors Division

First place, Alap Sahoo, Stockdale; second, Hannah Chang, Bakersfield; third, Brandon Kan, Frontier.

Scholastic Division

First, Levi Vogel, Stockdale; second, Sharila Stewart, Bakersfield; third, Luis Flores, Cesar E. Chavez.

Varsity Division

First place, Joseph Fanous, Stockdale; second, Caitlin Williams, Bakersfield, third, Brian Aispuro, Wasco.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools


Most if not all of the 20 high school varsity teams gathered from across the county responded correctly. At that moment, Lenin's Marxist politics mattered to no one (although, truth be told, two squads' T-shirts did feature the hammer and sickle).

For months the teams had pored over Russian social studies in hopes of advancing to the state finals next month. Not just social studies, either: Russian economics, literature, art, science and music filled their minds in classes, clubs and weekend cram sessions. Mathematics was part of the competition as well, but it did not follow this year's Russian theme.

Saturday afternoon's quiz show-type finale capped a competition that included speeches, interviews and essays.

"They've worked really hard," said the county's Academic Decathlon coordinator, Cathie Morris.

Last year the competition's theme was the Age of Imperialism, and Bakersfield High won the county title, with Stockdale High joining at the state competition as runner-up.

This year, Stockdale took top honors, followed by Bakersfield High.

"So happy. So happy," said Stockdale senior Joseph Fanous, 12 category medals hanging around his neck -- three more than he picked up last year. "Been waiting for this all year."

Teammate Georgieanna Escobedo, a junior, hardly knew what to say.

"I was so nervous this entire day," said the winner of five medals this year. "I didn't know if I could make it or not."

After so much time spent studying Russia, Fanous had a single comment about the world's largest nation:

"Russia's a really depressing country, to be honest."

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