CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Coastal Bend high school is celebrating its wins at the Academic Decathlon state meet.
In February, Veterans Memorial High School placed fourth overall in the medium-size school division at the Frisco state meet for the academic decathlon winning a $300 scholarship money for members of the team.
“Just even competing this year was a big deal, so the fact that we even did so well just absolutely overjoyed,” said Craig Lawrimore, Veterans Memorial's academic decathlon coach.
The academic decathlon has ten different categories. It includes three subjective, speech, interview and essay questions and seven written tests.
Lawrimore said the pandemic created a lot of challenges for the team this year, including having to adjust to doing speeches through zoom, technology issues and only having seven students on their team. But, they were still able to overcome all obstacles.
“Getting a gold medal at state, it's a pretty nice achievement," said Jeffrey Zhu, a junior at Vets. "I was really proud of that,”
Zhu won a gold medal in essay and speech. Senior Arianna Baradaran won a gold medal in essay and interview and a silver medal in speech.
This was their first year doing the academic decathlon and they say it was exciting to be part of a team especially during the pandemic.
“I mean it's just nice to have academic decathlon as kind of an outlet to compete," Zhu said. "Especially in this year in things we weren’t able to do, like out of town tournaments and interacting with people."
Baradaran said the competition is a thrilling culmination of the team's decathlon season.
“You see everyone, you see your friends and it's really good energy and it's super uplifting," she said. "And then placing really well was a big confidence boost,”
Academic decathlon coach Sabina Maza said seeing the team's growth makes coaching so special.
“The way they presented their speeches even at the beginning of the year. They had a lot of confidence," Maza said. "I am really happy and this gives us so much to look forward to as well."
Academic Decathlon team members said their success and achievements are thanks to the administration for their continued support and resources throughout the year.