A group of six teenagers from Ulysses Grant High School in Los Angeles, are celebrating the fruits of long hours of study. Despite the pandemic, the students just won the 2021 LAUSD Academic Decathlon, a historic win for the school.
The victory was possible in part thanks to the leadership of Yadira Castillo, a young Latina student who was also the decathlon’s overall winner.
"We finally managed to be the first team in the entire Los Angeles School District, and also luckily I was able to be the winner of the entire competition," Castillo said.
But it was not luck, it was long hours of study and sleepless nights that gave Castillo, a third-year decathlon veteran, the highest individual score among all LAUSD's contestants, helping her team achieve the school's first victory in this first-ever virtual contest.
Almost 60 schools compete every year in the LAUSD Academic Decathlon. Then, the winner gets to compete against other 60 schools at the state level.
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“I am very proud, my team and I have been working very hard since last summer,” said Castillo. “We took seven exams in academic subjects like math, economics, history, and English, we studied art and music and we had to give a speech, and do an interview with the judges."
Despite the unique challenge that studying and competing in a virtual decathlon represents, the Grant High school Students say that the competition was like a lifesaver against isolation and that winning wouldn't have been possible without the support and dedication they received from their parents and teachers during the many months they prepared for the decathlon.