El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills has once again given Los Angeles something to kvell about. The school claimed top honors at this year's national Academic Decathlon, the annual contest of intellectual prowess.
Three of the nine team members generated special pride for the Jewish community: Lindsey Cohen and Linsday Gibbs are both affiliated with Shomrei Torah, while Kevin Rosenberg attends Temple Aliyah.
"I got enormous support from my parents, from my temple [Shomrei Torah] and from my friends," Gibbs said. "After we won state, the rabbi sent me a letter and the cantor called me.... They didn't know what I got on each test or how I did medal-wise, and yet, they were all so supportive and welcoming and congratulatory when I got back."
Team members began preparing for the April contest last summer, gradually increasing hours until December, when they started staying at school until 10 p.m. The competition challenges students in 10 different categories, including art, economics and science, and each nine-member team must include an equal number of A, B and C students.
"The questions were incredibly detailed," said team member Kevin Rosenberg, who answered correctly when asked to name the 15 nations captured by Hammurabi. (He was the king of Babylon in the 18th century B.C.E. -- but you knew that, didn't you?) Rosenberg said a fellow teammate put the group's study material on a scale and it came to 61 pounds.
Besides the studying, all three students cited the camaraderie and cohesiveness of the group as part of their success.
"The team chemistry put us over the top," Cohen said.
Tryouts for next year's team are already under way, and more than 80 students have indicated interest. Zol zein mit mazel (Lots of luck to you all)