What began as a tiny competition involving Catholic junior high students from the greater Los Angeles area has grown to become a statewide event involving Catholic junior high students from across the United States.

On March 10, 101 Catholic elementary schools from throughout the Archdiocese of Los Angeles will meet at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum & Sports Arena for Catholic Schools Academic Decathlon. More than 1,000 top students in grades 6-8 will be participate in “this spirit-filled competition,” said Jo Solomonson, former principal at St. Stephen Martyr School in Monterey Park, and event chairperson. 

The Catholic Schools Academic Decathlon --- founded in September 1989 by Dr. Mark Ryan, then a junior high teacher at St. Aloysius Gonzaga School in South Los Angeles --- features ten events, including two collaborative team efforts, a logic quiz with 20 rigorous thinking problems, and a super quiz with 50 multiple choice questions on five broad themes. 

The remaining events test individual knowledge of Catholic doctrine, English, literature, science, mathematics, current events, social studies and fine arts (music and art). Awards are given for individual and team performance, and the winning school team from each diocese competes in a state championship the first Saturday of May.

The annual Academic Decathlon draws a crowd of 6,000 students, parents and supporters. It is supported by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Catholic Schools and a team of volunteers, most of them Catholic elementary school principals. 

 “Our goal is to continue to uphold the vision of Dr. Ryan,” said Solomonson. “The strength of the Decathlon lies with committed and hard-working education practitioners who believe in high performing schools. Students exposed to academic competitions tend to do better in school. They are the reflective and critical thinkers, the problem solvers and future innovators and most of all, they are more aware of the needs of others.” 

This year’s Academic Decathlon concludes with a liturgy to be celebrated by Father David Loftus, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes in Northridge. The National Anthem will be rendered by St. Monica High School/Santa Monica. Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge will present a certificate of recognition to AJHD at the opening ceremonies. 

For more information, contact Jo Solomonson, (626) 627-6672 or  HYPERLINK "mailto:[email protected]" [email protected].