EL CAMINO'S DECATHLON CHAMPS TO GET HALF-HOUR WITH CLINTON.
They got their first wish: to win the 1998 U.S. Academic Decathlon. Now it looks like they'll get their second wish: to meet the president of the United States.
On Monday, El Camino Real High School's eight-member decathlon team will meet President Clinton at Los Angeles International Airport. The private, half-hour confab was arranged by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Woodland Hills, whose district includes the school.
``It's pretty exciting,'' co-coach David Roberson said Friday. ``The kids are walking on air right now. That's one of the things they had hoped to get to do - to get recognition and to meet the president.''
Sherman arranged the meeting after the team captured the national Academic Decathlon title Sunday in Providence, R.I. The team won 31 individual medals, including five gold medals in language and literature.
Last year, the congressman presented the school's second-place team with a U.S. flag flown over the nation's capitol.
``This team came in first and we're trying to do more,'' Sherman said from his office in Washington. ``I'll do whatever I can to honor these students.''
Up until 1993, national decathlon champs were rewarded with a trip to the White House. Taft High School of Woodland Hills, which placed second in the national finals in 1993, was the last local school to visit the White House.
Decathlon winners fared better under President Bush when they visited the White House on three different occasions.
Since Clinton assumed office, the number of White House visits has declined - the victim of fluid party politics, decathlon officials said.
``It's the old who-you-know network,'' said Frann Shermet, executive coordinator of the U.S. Academic Decathlon, who said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once helped the organization arrange a trip to the White House. ``It has a lot to do with people helping us - senators we know who are able to access the White House.''
This year, the key official was Sherman, who arranged Monday's meeting with the help of senior White House aides.
``I went over to the White House and this (visit with Clinton) was close to the top of the list,'' Sherman said.
In addition to the team members and their head coaches, the meeting will include Superintendent Ruben Zacarias and administrators from the school, district offices and Academic Decathlon organization.
``We're very excited about this opportunity,'' Principal Ron Bauer said Friday. ``It lends a real classy finality to the great win they had in Rhode Island.''
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||May 2, 1998|
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