Olympia High School

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Olympia High School
Olympia High School logo
School Founded 1907 (2nd Oldest High School in the State)
Team Established Unknown
History Olympia has been 1st or 2nd at state for all but one year with Bill Curtis as coach.
City Olympia, WA
Team Colors Blue (Ultramarine) and White (Magnolia)
Principal Matt Grant
Head Coach Bill Curtis
Associate/Other Head Coach(es) NONE
National Championships NONE
State Championships 7: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007
Regional/County Championships (Unknown) 2006, 2007
Region/County Location Western Washington
Highest Finish 31st 2006 Nationals
School Website {{{website}}}

School Profile[edit]

Olympia high school is an AAAA public high school in Washington with an enrollment of 1850 students. It is considered one of the top high schools in the state, and was recently named one of the top 5% of high schools in the country. Olympia offers many AP classes, and has an overall passing rate of over 85%. The AP Calculus and English Language and Composition programs are particularly large.

Olympia may have strong sports teams, but aside from its academics it is perhaps best known for its music program. The band, orchestra, and choir students consistently send many students to the All-State and All-Northwest Honor Groups. The orchestra, directed by Chip Schooler, is particularly strong and is often regarded as one of the best in the nation. Well over 100 students participate in four orchestras throughout the day. In 2006, the orchestra program alone sent 22 students to All-State and in 2007 10 qualified for All-Northwest, more than any other school in both instances. In 2007, Olympia won every category for string instruments in the local solo and ensemble contest.

The Acadec Team[edit]

Prehistoric Times: 198?-1996 Little is known about Olympia High School's Academic Decathlon program prior to 1996. It is known, however, that the team met before school and never won a state championship. This was perhaps due to the relatively competitive nature of WSAD at the time. It is rumored that in the mid-to-late 1980s there were approximately 50 teams vying for the state title, but this has not been confirmed. According to the present coach at Lakeview Ft. Ogelthorpe HS (GA) Capital High School won at least one divisional championship at nationals sometime around 1990. Also, prior to Bill Curtis' leadership, Olympia's coach was a German teacher and the team met before school.

Early Years: 1997-2004

Bill Curtis took over as coach in 1997. The history of the team before that time is very little known. In 1997, the team placed second at state. However, Washington used an unusual scoring system back then. If the current system for calculating scores (top two overall scores in each division make up the team score) had been used, then Olympia would have won its first state competition by a mere 9 points. Olympia's earliest teams tended to be most competitive in economics. However, as fewer students at the school are in economics classes today and USAD's emphasis has gradually shifted away from Macroeconomics, Olympia's economics scores today are not as high as they once were (though still highly respectable). Olympia placed third at state in 1998, and shortly thereafter scores throughout the state took a downturn. This was largely due to the decline of the team at Hudson's Bay High School (Vancouver), which had won the previous two state championships and several medals at nationals. Other notable teams, such as Wenatchee, North Thurston, and nine-time state champions Capital, disbanded during this time period. In Washington, Knowledge Bowl (although highly disorganized) remains the dominant high-school academic competition. This is in part due to its use of smaller teams and its relative lack of costs.

In 1999, Olympia High School took its first state championship. At nationals, the team's first honors, Jenny Pegg, took home a bronze in interview and was the team's top scorer. Olympia also qualified for nationals in 2001, 2002, and 2003. During this time, Olympia won two more national medals: in 2002 Justin Griffin was the bronze scholastic in economics and in 2003 Nick Halpern won the honors silver in math. However, scores across the board were fairly low compared to those in some other states. In most years, Olympia had an honors or two in the mid-6000s range, but the team was not very balanced between divisions. In 2002, it won the state championship again. Strangely, by mistake the state organization did not count the essay in the scoring at all that year. Luckily though, rankings of schools and of the top scorers remain the same with the essay accounted for. The only Olympian decathlete from this period known to work for Demidec was Amy Lee. Scores dropped again in 2004 and Timberline defeated Olympia at state that year by a tiny margin. In 2004, the state's top scorer was Yogesh Saletore, an Olympia junior.

The Modern Era: 2005-Present

2005 produced the most competitive state tournament Washington had seen in a while. Olympia had only one varsity at regionals, but still managed second place. River Ridge took first, and proceeded with a very strong showing at the state competition. Their state score blew away Timberline's winning score from the previous year, but was still not enough to defeat Olympia (now with a full team). Notably, all but one decathlete on the Olympia team won a medal in economics, and Olympia took the top three honors spots. Yogesh Saletore was the top scorer again, this time with almost 7000 points, a very high score considering Washington's recent history. Although Olympia's subsequent ranking at nationals was perhaps its worst to date, the team won two medals: Yogesh earned a silver in interview and Jonathan Spatola-Knoll won a bronze in Music. Jonathan also won a scholarship as the team's high scorer, with Yogesh following closely behind.

The 2005-2006 season was a rebuilding year. The only returning team members were Jonathan Spatola-Knoll and Eddy Hu, both honors. Although inexperienced, this proved to be one of Olympia's stronger teams. The team won state over River Ridge by almost 6000 points, and Jonathan and Eddy were the highest and second highest scorers at the tournament, respectively. Oddly enough, the two tied for gold medals in two subjects and their overall scores were seperated by exactly 1000 points. The team's nationals finish was less impressive, but still fairly respectable. Jonathan again won bronze in music and was the team's highest scorer. He also earned fourth place individually in the Super Quiz and Eddy, a senior, sadly missed out on an economics medal by a single question.

Olympia won state again in 2007, with Northwest Christian in second place. River Ridge and Timberline performed respectably, but their scores had decreased over past years due to a large number of seniors. Jonathan Spatola-Knoll set a possible state individual record at the tournament with 8434.4 points. He also continued his three-year gold medal streak in music at state with a 980 in the subject. Both he and Dara Higgs (Varsity) had the highest overall scores in their divisions by almost 1500 points. Dara won a medal in every subject, and seven were gold. In terms of scores, nationals was disappointing. USAD scheduled the essays ahead of time during Olympia's spring break and did not notify the team until it was too late for the team members to plan around it, so only a couple people on the team competed in the event. The rest were out of town. Jonathan was the team's top scorer again, and took silver in music. He also placed in the top six in Economics, Social Science, and Art, missing a medal in the historical category by a single question for the second year in a row.

In 2008, Olympia won the last Washington Academic Decathlon state competition and took 34th overall at nationals with 34,435.1 points, where team high scorer Ashley Lloyd earned an impressive 7511.7 points. Whether the Washington Academic Decathlon shall continue in the future remains unknown.