By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
The Palisades Charter High School Academic Decathlon team finished in 11th place after netting more than 50,000 points in a state competition in Sacramento on Sunday, March 24.
Jaden Elkins, senior captain, won the silver medal in math after only missing one of 35 questions, having won two medals the previous year.
Jason Ziperovich also won a medal in science, and Nima Rahmanian placed among the highest-scoring students in the competition.
Head Coach Joel Jimenez, who started with the decathlon team as an assistant coach and took over after the previous coach took a leave of absence, was surprised to see the students’ willingness to study so hard in preparation, sometimes as late as 7:30 p.m. after school multiple times per week.
“I wasn’t sure how it would end because last year was my first year and I saw how hard kids were working, and they inspired me,” Jimenez said in an interview with the Palisadian-Post. “I’m not forcing them to be there—they chose to be there until that time.”
Their hard work paid off, as the school now ranks 35 out of hundreds of schools in the country, and dedicates most of their time to upcoming competitions.
“The team studies about 20 hours per week at least 40 weeks a year, and had its best showing at states in well over a decade,” said Brett Elkins, a Pali High parent.
The team will now look to expand and improve on its success for the next year, with a goal of being in the top 10 schools in California—a state that has produced many national champions in the past.
Funded through team fundraisers, the Pali High Booster Club and school administration, the club is able to travel to Sacramento and represent the Palisades with success.
Jimenez invites students who wish to inquire more or join Academic Decathlon to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.