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SCHOOL CHEERS ACADEMIC TEAM; ACHIEVEMENTS HAILED AT MOORPARK HIGH.

Byline: Gloria Gonzales Daily News Staff Writer

Dazed from an intense weekend competition and success, Moorpark High School's best and brightest stood grinning Tuesday morning while their principal praised their performance at the state Academic Decathlon.

``It's a beautiful day to recognize a true indicator of quality on our campus, and a veritable explosion of academic success,'' Principal John McIntosh told a crowd of 1,500 Moorpark High teen-agers gathered on the quad.

``We're here to honor our Academic Decathlon team, the team from little ol' Moorpark High School that this weekend won second place in the state of California and first place in its division . . . . And (comparing nationwide scores) beat teams from Chicago, Illinois, Miami, Florida and Denver.''

After the kudos, the team members took the podium to thank their teachers and throw down the gauntlet for next year.

``Wow! This is like the Oscars!'' said Nick Lang, a 16-year-old junior with five medals hanging from his neck, while the crowd of teen-agers applauded and cheered. ``We want to thank all the teachers and especially our coaches, Larry Jones and Michelle Bergman. The teachers are really the ones that made this happen. There's only one place to go next year - and that's up to No. 1!''

Bergman, the team's math and science coach, reminded the audience that the team's winnings weren't all academic.

``Not only did this team win medals, they won cold, hard cash,'' Bergman said. ``Michael Liu and Kevin Chou took home $1,200, and Nick Lang and Vanessa Mancinelli took home $1,000 each.''

Overall, the students won $5,600 in cash.

Because Moorpark High School students had Monday off, Tuesday morning was the team's first day back on campus. The outdoor morning assembly was the first of several recognitions planned for the day, ending with a presentation from the school board Tuesday might.

``We're still riding high from the weekend,'' said Alexandra Dove, a gold medalist in art.

``Classes? What are classes? Do we have to go to classes today?'' joked Navroop Mitter, as he skittered from team member to team member after the ceremony.

Jones, the team's head coach, credited the success to hard work and sacrifice, including countless nights and weekends spent studying. But while Jones credited the students' hard work, students and administrators were quick to call Jones the driving force behind the win.

For several years, the history teacher has coached the team, which since 1993 has won either first or second place during county competitions.

``This win is a reflection on the entire community, and we all should be proud,'' said Assistant Superintendent Frank DePasquale. ``But it also has to be said that this would not have happened if not for Larry Jones. This is the culmination of a lot of his hard work, and an achievement such as this always takes one person - a leader - and that's Larry Jones.''

MOORPARK'S ACADEMIC MEDALS

The nine students on the Moorpark High School Academic Decathlon Team took home a total of 18 gold, 16 silver and eight bronze medals, more than any other team in their division, and second only to El Camino Real High School of Woodland Hills in the state.

Two students took home gold medals at the state level, beating out students in all three divisions. They competed at the honors level, which includes students with grade-point averages of 3.5 or higher:

Kevin Chou, senior, won first place in the state in social studies, and third place in the state in math.

Michael Liu, senior, won first place in the state in math, and second place in the state in literature.

Within Division 2 (districts with between 15,000 and 100,000 students), the nine team members took home 18 gold medals, 16 silver medals and eight bronze medals at the honors (3.5 to 4.0), scholastic (3.0 to 3.5) and varsity (3.0) levels. The following are some of the gold medalists:

Honors level: Liu, first in division overall, gold medals in math and music; Chou, gold medal in math.

Scholastic level: Rebecca Wershba, first at scholastic level overall, gold medals in essay, literature and music; Ajay Jayant, gold medal in art; Valeria Lake, gold medal in social studies.

Varsity level: Vanessa Mancinelli, first at varsity level overall, gold medals in essay and literature; Alexandra Dove, gold medal in art; Nick Lang, gold medals in social studies, science, music and speech.

CAPTION(S):

2 Photos, Box

PHOTO (1--Color in Simi Edition only) Coach Larry Jones holds a sign indicating the assembled Moorpark High Academic Decathlon team's ranking among 2,142 schools.

(2--Ran in Simi Edition only) Medal-wearing members of the Moorpark High Academic Decathlon team follow coach Larry Jones to the stage in the campus quad.

Bob Halvorsen/Daily News

BOX: (Ran in Simi Edition only) Moorpark's academic medals (See text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Mar 25, 1998
Words:807
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