By ABBY SOUZA
After months of practice tests, essay writing, speech giving and studying, the Summerville High School Academic Decathlon team's hard work paid off.
Beating seven-year winner Tioga High School by almost 1,000 points in the regional competition Saturday, Summerville's team will go on to represent Tuolumne County in the state finals of the Academic Decathlon in March.
The 21-member team, including nine competitors and 12 alternates, began studying for the day of testing before the school year even started. The team members and their coach English teacher Wayne deGennaro knew they had a tough competition on their hands.
"We were determined not to embarrass ourselves," deGennaro said.
Tioga High School, second to Summerville, came in ahead of both Calaveras County schools represented Mountain Oaks School and Bret Harte High School.
Western expansion was the theme of this year's Academic Decathlon, which meant the teams had to study everything that had to do with that era. The Summerville team read a book on the Louis and Clark expedition and studied American art and botany for the one-day event.
The team competed in three groupings honors, scholastic and varsity based on grade point average. Each team member took 40-question multiple-choice tests in six categories, including art, music, science, literature and the most troublesome for the team, math.
"We couldn't use our graphing calculators," said Brinda Lee, a Summerville team member.
The math questions during the Super Quiz, where three players at a time answer questions in a game show setting, was especially hard for Summerville team member Jessica Jacobs.
"I was freaking out," she said. "I got so upset over a calculator, I was crying."
But it didn't keep the Summerville team from racking up 33,390 points and 35 individual medals for scores in each of the categories. They were also judged on and given medals for essays, prepared and impromptu speeches and interviews.