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Academic competition teams restricted

Mock Trial, Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad, Robotics teams face potential cut in teams

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Advisors of academic competition teams received a notice from the Ventura County Office of Education Oct. 16 that each of their teams could be limited to sending only one group of students to competitions instead of the usual two.

Teams such as Mock Trial, Academic Decathlon, Science Olympiad and Robotics could all be affected by this development, only allowing a portion of the students to go to competitions.

Coordinator of Student Competitions for Ventura County Office of Education John Tarkany oversees the academic competition teams of schools in the Ventura County area and informed advisors of this development.

“Dr. Rice and I are brainstorming how to accommodate everyone if we get more than 34 teams,” Tarkany wrote in an email to Mock Trial advisors. “If more schools participate, they will be limited to only one team.”

The idea of being able to bring more students into the program was so motivating.”

— Robin Midiri

According to Victor Anderson, Mock Trial attorney coach and faculty advisor, the teams may be limited due to the growing number of schools competing within academic competitions — meaning there is less room for multiple teams per school.

“There’s a lot more schools involved, which I think is great, but that means there’s less space for more than one team,” Academic Decathlon advisor Robin Midiri said.

Teams like Academic Decathlon or Mock Trial — which have over 35 participants, and 18 positions per team — have a large number of students, making it difficult to bring only one set of students to competitions.

“When I started Academic Decathlon, the greatest thing for me was that they allowed two full teams plus alternates,” Midiri said. “The idea of being able to bring more students into the program was so motivating.”

After Anderson found out about the potential change, the first people he told were his two Mock Trial co-captains, seniors Medha Vallurupalli and Michelle Chen. They helped decide how to reorganize the teams so the group going to competition would have the more experienced students.

“We actually waited for a week to tell our team, just so that we had a plan of action in how to deal with the changing teams,” Vallurupalli said. “In class one day, we told everyone that this may be a possibility. The next class, we announced the revised teams.”

It’s not fair to find out at the last minute — [people have] already prepped everything, and at the last second, [they] find out that they can’t go to a competition.”

— Prinaka Drona

Prinaka Drona, freshman and Mock Trial A Team member, said she was upset over the possible change.

“It’s not fair to find out at the last minute — [people have] already prepped everything, and at the last second, [they] find out that they can’t go to a competition,” Drona said. “Everyone wants their friends to go too, so some people are upset.”

Though the new proposal will limit some students’ opportunities, students understood why changes were made.

“It’s easier for one team to go to competition because otherwise the captains would have to focus on training two teams and making them top notch, whereas sending just one team allows for them to divide up focus better,” freshman Prerana Rao wrote to the Talon.

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