UHS Academic Decathlon Competes in First In-Person State Competition in Four Years


Keyon Jazayeri

The Academic Decathlon team poses for a group photo at Santa Clara High School during the Academic Decathlon State Championship.

Tracy Le, Staff Writer

For their third year in a row, UHS Academic Decathlon was invited to compete at the California Academic Decathlon State Championship, hosted in person this year in Santa Clara on March 25. The invitation followed the team’s notable achievements in the regional Orange County competition, with Team A finishing third overall to earn the state invitation alongside a $2,000 cash prize. 

The state competition was divided into three academic levels: Honor, Scholastic and Varsity, based on the student’s unweighted GPA. Participants competed in a variety of events, including art, economics, literature, mathematics, music, science and social science. Essays, interviews and speeches were also performed by each participant. The state team consisted of seniors Keyon Jazayeri, Elias Von Dem Bussche, Samuel Wang and Ashley Yang, juniors Mackenzie Lee and Coco Darby and sophomores Yutong Zhao and Nguyen Do.

The preparation process involved great time commitments from all members to thoroughly review the 100-plus paged material before the competition. 

“Preparing for the competition meant excelling in ten different subjects ranging from art and music to chemistry and algebra,” Academic Decathlon Co-President and senior Keyon Jazayeri said. “The sheer amount of content demanded a lot of individual studying, but we supplemented this with weekly meetings where commissioners would present on their subjects, and on weekends we would meet in person for a few hours to do some group studying.”

First-time UHS Academic Decathlon state member, sophomore Nguyen Do, details her favorite part of being able to compete on the state team.

“I found the competition to be less stressful and more enjoyable than expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience,” Do said. “The trip was memorable because of Coach Esposito and the teammates that went along with me.”

With the national competition theme changing each year, the 2022-23 theme was “The American Revolution and the New Nation.” After numerous rounds of multiple-choice tests and events in speech and writing, Jazayeri won the Bronze in the Music, Essay and Interview categories whilst Do won the Gold in Science.

“My favorite part of that weekend was the team dinners that we would have,” Do said. “It was a time when we could chill out and talk to each other about whatever we wanted. After such a hectic day at the competition, I just needed some time with the team.”

For many, one of the highlights of this year was the immersive state experience. It was the first time the Academic Decathlon team competed in person at state after several years of online state competitions.

“We spent the weekend in a hotel at Santa Clara where we had the chance to explore the area and finally not compete through a screen,” Jazayeri said.

As a senior participating in his final Academic Decathlon competition, Jazayeri details the importance of Academic Decathlon and the sense of camaraderie that comes with it, as well as this year’s team representation on the state level.

“I’m going to miss the team dynamic the most,” Jazayeri said. “Every year, but this one especially, everyone on [the] team naturally spends a lot of time together and we end up getting really close. We all have the shared goal of winning the competition which draws us together, and the time not spent preparing or competing was spent with each other, having fun.”