HMA student gets gold medal at state academic decathlon

Harmony Magnet Academy’s students receive gold and bronze medals at California Academic Decathlon

PORTERVILLE – Harmony Magnet Academy students returned as medalists this past week after representing Tulare County at the state academic decathlon competition.

At the California Academic Decathlon in Santa Clara, students from Harmony Magnet Academy (HMA) represented their county well. The team is celebrating their victors, as juniors Allison Daguman and Jamie Wilkinson won gold and bronze, respectively, in Division III Interviews. Not only that, senior Jay Dillon earned the highest overall score for the team in the combined 10 events. Dillon will receive honor cords for his accomplishments at the state level.

“This has been an incredible experience, both for the team and for me as their coach,” HMA coach Kimberly Marsh said. “Our school has not had an academic decathlon team for a few years, and this was my very first year ever coaching an academic decathlon team.”

Marsh said that the team is young compared to most, with only one senior, three juniors and four sophomores. While Dillon did not medal, he was instrumental to the team’s success and was their overall scorer at both the state and county levels.

“It was the first year as a decathlete for every one of my students. I am so proud of these kids. They came to school at 7:30 a.m. every day to work together to build their knowledge and skills, and I have seen them grow so much during the year,” Marsh said.

Paula Terrill, student events coordinator for the Tulare County Office of Education, said she met with the team after the awards ceremony to congratulate them. Terrill, who also sits on the Board of Directors for the California Academic Decathlon, said she was beyond proud of the team and their representation of the county.

“To be perfectly honest, I almost cried when their name was called,” Terrill said. “In my mind, every event is an experience for the students, and I want them to do well. But, mostly I want their experience to be amazing. And so when our students were called up, I knew this was an amazing experience that they’ll never forget.”

The United States Academic Decathlon will take place April 27-29 in Frisco, Texas. However, members of the HMA academic decathlon team will not compete and are currently preparing for next year’s competition.

“They are really proud to have represented Harmony Magnet Academy and Tulare County well,” Marsh said. “They’re already starting to plan for next year. As a teacher and a coach, whenever students get this excited about knowledge and learning, honestly, it doesn’t get better than that.”

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