[Posted October 15, 2017] Did you know that Uni was the first-ever Los Angeles-area school to participate in the Academic Decathlon?
It’s true (details here – see p. 6)! The concept was originally developed by Orange County Superintendent of Schools Robert Peterson, with the first event held in 1968. Although a considerable local success, Peterson wanted to expand it well beyond Orange County and the next logical spot was just to the north:
“In 1978, Dr. Peterson met with Dr. William Johnston, Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District, Harry Handler, Deputy, and Dr. Paul Possemato, Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage LAUSD to field a team to compete in the first annual State of California academic competition. Dr. Peterson indicated that the Academic Decathlon was an Orange County success but Orange County, at the time, was predominately suburban, Anglo, and middle class. He wanted to prove its value in an urban setting. Los Angeles was the place for such a success. Dr. Johnston gave the job of fielding the school team to Dr. Possemato, stating that the best school to represent the district would be one that could provide a multi-ethnic team.
“Dr. Possemato met with University High School principal Paul Godfrey, who enthusiastically agreed to support the program. The two coaches were George Bonorris and Barbara Golding. Dr. Possemato collected all of the magazines, books and other research materials that the team needed. University High School competed in April 1979 at Chapman College in what was now called the California Academic Decathlon (CAD). Schools from 23 counties participated in the competition, and the following year participation increased to 43 counties. (Emphasis added)”
We’d be happy to have some memories from anyone on that 1979 team; let us know what that experience was like at Connect@UHEF.org!