The organized chaos of opening day is behind them. The butterflies have subsided somewhat, although they never totally disappeared, and students around the state are buckling down to finish out the second half of the academic decathlon with flying colors.

The second half takes place this Saturday, and it includes the much-heralded Super Quiz.
In Los Angeles County, there are three different competitions–one strictly for schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), one hosted by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) for districts outside LAUSD, and one for private and charter schools.

The overall theme is the Great Depression, and the Super Quiz focuses on geology.

LAUSD this year fielded 64 teams, including Crenshaw, Carson, Dorsey, Fremont, King Drew, and Washington high schools. According to LAUSD coordinator Cliff Ker, budget cuts have definitely made this year’s competition more challenging. Additionally, a number of the local schools such as Carson, Crenshaw and Fremont are working with new coaches. King Drew has picked up two seasoned coaches–Jeff Gold, formerly of Crenshaw, and Julia Lee who was at Fremont.

Ker said the Dorsey team showed well during the scrimmage, placing in the top 20.

The LACOE competition has been impacted most by budget cuts. According to a spokesperson, 10 teams are not returning to compete in 2011.

“This is unprecedented,” said Rick de la Torre. “We had been growing slowly, now his is a setback.”

De la Torre estimates it typically costs about $5,000 to field a team, which includes entry fees, study materials, as well as supplemental information needed to study.

Among the teams not competing this year are Pete Knight High School in Palmdale.
Lancaster California Academy of Mathematics and Science (Carson), Firebaugh (Lynwood) Hawthorne and Inglewood are among the schools that will go on to compete in the second half of the competition.

In the private school division, there are 30 teams competing for a spot to move on to the state finals, and that is up by five from last year.

Junipero Serra High School in Gardena has entered two teams and Paraclete High in Lancaster is competing as well.