Beaumont High School’s academic decathlon team took fourth place during the first fully virtual Riverside County Academic Decathlon, which was won for the fourth year in a row by Elsinore High School.

The theme for the 38th decathlon, sponsored by the Riverside County Office of Education, was “The Cold War.”

The fully virtual competition started on Jan. 26 with essays, then proceeded to speeches and interviews on Jan. 30. Written tests and the popular Super Quiz went virtual on Feb. 6.

Western Center Academy from Hemet Unified School District finished second while Corona High School’s Gold team finished third. Beaumont High School finished fourth and Vista del Lago High School was fifth overall.

Elsinore High School was also the winner of the Super Quiz held virtually on Feb. 6.

The California Academic Decathlon will be held virtually on March 11-13, 2021. The California state champion advances to the United States Academic Decathlon from April 29 to May 1.

Each team is composed of nine students, three from each grade point category, and includes three Honor (GPA 3.75-4.00), three Scholastic (GPA 3.00-3.74), and three Varsity (GPA 0.00-2.99) students. Students accumulate individual and team points in written events in mathematics, economics, art, music, literature, science, social science, and Super Quiz.

“We were very close to qualifying for the state competition,” says Beaumont’s coach Chuck Rathfelder. “The main challenge this year was of course that we never met in person, like I've actually never met either of our two highest scoring students: Kirsten (Cabalonga) is new to Beaumont and Savannah (Sontoski) is a ninth-grader, and we've only been online this year, along with a few others I also haven't met.”

Many of the traditional methods the typical AcaDec team relies on to prepare were not available, Rathfelder contends.

For instance, students can spend eight hours straight in the library studying for their events.

“Our team was really unusually strong, so they made up for it,” Rathfelder says. “Another challenge was just for me: being able to recruit or advertise for our team, to get new students to sign up — I wasn't really able to do that because students aren't on campus this year. Still it was a great experience, for me and hopefully for the students.”

This year’s teams included (Honors) sophomore Kirsten Cabalonga, freshman Savannah Sontoski, junior Colton Day; (Scholastic) senior Kiyani Carter, and juniors Urenna Egu and Alexis McGraw; (Varsity) seniors Dawnevan Cooper and Eliana Romero.

Cabalonga medaled in language, literature, economics, and earned one in the Super Quiz.

Sontoski is Beaumont’s highest-scoring freshman ever, and medaled in the Super Quiz.

Day earned a medal in the Super Quiz.

Carter won a medal in interview.

Cooper won a medal in interview.

Romero captured a medal in music.

“I’m always proud of our team, but this year’s team has had to deal with unique challenges, and they’ve still done really well, so that’s commendable,” Rathfelder says.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.


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