In 2014, a small group of minority students from working class families in Ontario, California made history and qualified to compete in the state Academic-Decathlon (Aca-Dec) competition against the top teams in the nation. This year they are trying to do the same, only this time with a less experienced group and while still facing the same challenges as last year's county champions (see article below).
This year's kids from Chaffey High School, just 50 miles east of Los Angeles include: Team Captain-Dominique (Nikki) Salazar, Gen Hernandez, Freddy Soto, Daniel Hurtado and Christian Lucero. What makes this year's group even more special is that the team is made up of students new to Aca-Dec who have never participated in this event. They refuse to listen to the doubters who point to their lack of experience or that the schools they are striving to compete against come from wealthier neighborhoods with the support of private sponsors and full-time staff dedicated to Aca-Dec such as Beverly Hills, Marshall and El Camino High School (last year's National Champions).
Although a lot of these kids do not have the same resources like many of the top competitors, they are not intimidated and remained focus on what they do haveÔÇªcourage, perseverance, resourcefulness and self confidence. This group is more determined than last year's as they recognize the magnitude of their David vs Goliath approach and also understand that this may propel them into a top college.
This small group of resilient-determined kids from humble backgrounds will soon find out if they qualify for the California Aca-Dec Championship in March 2015. To be guaranteed a spot, they must first win this year's San Bernardino Academic-Decathlon. The exciting awards banquet and announcements take place this Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 6PM in San Bernardino's National Orange Show Event Center located at 689 South E Street in San Bernardino. The winner will automatically go to the state finals next month in Sacramento.
Even though these kids were not expected to make it this far, here they are. Still standing defiantly, refusing to go down without a fight. In the brave and courageous words of Emiliano Zapata, "It is better to die on my feet than to continue living on my knees".