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Academic team heads to state championships


The Summerville High School Academic Decathlon team is today heading for the competition of the year — the California State Academic Decathlon.

Outscoring seven-year winner Tioga High School by almost 1,000 points in the regional competition last month, Summerville's team will represent Tuolumne County in the state decathlon finals in Sacramento this weekend.

The nine competitors — Alex Bressler, Jeff Calfee, Aaron Epperly, Jessica Jacobs, Ryan Johnson, Brenda Lee, Holly Sisco, Lindsey Wallace and Daniel Winfred — and their coach — English teacher Wayne deGennaro — planned to hit the road after school.

"They're excited," deGennaro said. "A combination of excited and nervous."

The students will stay at the Radisson Hotel tonight, rest up and take eight tests tomorrow. They face off against one school from each of the state's 58 counties. On Saturday, team members will give speeches and be interviewed by the judges. Awards will be given out Sunday.

This weekend's competitions take place at the Radisson and neighboring Rio Americano High School.

"America — The Growth of a Nation" is the theme of this year's state Decathlon. The kids have done a lot more studying and preparing since winning the regional competition in February.

"They've been practicing their speeches at lunch and studying after school at team members' houses," deGennaro said. "They've got the adrenaline going."

Tioga High School students have also helped the team, deGennaro said, by donating all their study material and sending letters of support to the Summerville students.

Part of the state competition includes a shopping mall-type event where each school brings 600 items representing their county for other decathlon team members to take home with them. DeGennaro said Black Oak Casino donated 600 ballpoint pens for this event.

The team needed about $3,000 for the trip to the state competition and raised it all through local donations, deGennaro said. County Bank, the Sierra Area Foundation, Sonora Community Hospital, the Soroptimists of Twain Harte and several individual donors helped get the kids to Sacramento.

"It's not just Summerville High School, but Tuolumne County sending them to state," deGennaro said. "It's really nice to be a part of a big team effort."

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