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Harmony Magnet does it again
HMA goes back to back at Academic Decathlon 2013
TULARE — It was a Ground Hog Day students at Harmony Magnet Academy would not mind reliving again and again. And, they proved it Saturday at Mission Oak High School in Tulare, where, for the second consecutive year, HMA earned the highest combined score during Academic Decathlon 2013.
“They are great. I am very proud of them. They were amazing,” said HMA coach John DeNicola. “Two thirds of the previous year’s championship team was lost to graduation and there was a growing fear that returning members might rest on their laurels and cease to improve.”
The team rallied and vowed to “Defend the Castle” in 2013.
The HMA team compiled a score of 33,298 points, edging out Redwood High School of Visalia, with 32,965, finishing with 63 medals — 20 bronze, 21 silver and 25 gold — en route to the overall championship. Harmony Magnet Academy advances to the state competition in March in Sacramento.
HMA also walked away with the small-school title and the highest scores in two individual events — Kisha Thayapran in Language/Literature and Matthew Nguyen in Science.
The 10-event scholastic competition tested 13 teams of Tulare County students. Teams were divided into large or small based on school size.
Teams from Granite Hills, Porterville and Monache high schools also fared well, racking up dozens of the bronze, silver and gold medals.
Stephanie Hicks of Granite Hills High School won the top overall varsity-division student trophy. When her name was called, the high school junior cried as she walked to accept it and as she returned to her seat.
“I was completely shocked,” Hicks said. “I know I stood as much of a chance as everyone else but I am overwhelmed. I could have sworn other people were getting called more than me. Then they called my name and it was me.”
Hicks had walked forward eight different times for medals. She had her biggest fan in the stands — her mother.
“I can’t describe how proud I am of her,” Michele Hicks said. “We didn’t expect this.”
Parents Lisa and Patrick Lewis were also in the stands and equally proud of their Harmony Magnet Academy student, Andrew Lewis.
“This is a tradition for our family. It’s kind of like a sporting event for us,” Patrick Lewis said. “The county does a great job in putting this on.”
Academic Decathlon teams are composed of six to nine students and team members are tested on economics, social science, mathematics, music, art, language and literature, and science. In addition, the contestants present prepared and impromptu speeches, written essays on given topics and undergo interviews by a panel of judges.
“It’s all worth it in the end,” said Harmony Magnet Academy team member Brandon Olmos, a junior who won a multitude of medals — before the awards ceremony even began. “The decathlon is the way to show what your school is all about. We represent a school with high expectations and high standards, and we want to hold those standards up to the best of our abilities.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.