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Del Norte High School students crowned Academic League champions

Del Norte team champion award with coach.JPG
San Diego County Office of Education
Del Norte High School coach Tom Swanson (far right holding trophy) stands with his Academic League championship students, San Diego, Calif., May 2, 2023.

The high school Academic League champions of San Diego County have been crowned for the first time since the COVID-19 shutdown.

The annual competition run by the County Office of Education (SDCOE) included teams of five members and two alternates. The last competition was held in 2019, before the pandemic.

Students from freshmen to seniors participated in the competition, which has been compared to an educational lightning round similar to the classic "Family Feud" game, combined with some elements of "Jeopardy!"


Teams were asked dozens of questions about current and historic events, science, math, art and literature.

In the end, Del Norte High School from Poway Unified defeated Olympian from the Sweetwater Union High School District, 580 to 105 points.

“These kids are pretty self-motivated. They put in the work to study on their own,” said Del Norte Coach Tom Swanson. “It’s really neat to see their knowledge and confidence grow. Especially when they’re freshmen and they’re finding their voice, and when they’re seniors, they’ve found it pretty clear," he said.

The Del Norte team won by answering a bonus science question.

They correctly defined the term bacteriophage as "any virus that replicates within a bacterium."

Olympian Team.jpg
San Diego County Office of Education
Academic League team members from Olympian in the Sweetwater Union High School District compete, Tuesday night, San Diego, Calif., May 2, 2023.

When asked about the match after the first semifinal round, Olympian Team Captain Martin Costa said,
“It was different than we’re used to."

Not only were the students on a set surrounded by professional cameras and lights, but the questions were short for a more fast-paced contest.

In previous years, regular season matches were held in a school library or classroom with longer, in-depth questions.

The students practiced for months with scrimmage games putting in as much time as some sports teams.

The entire event will be available to watch on SDCOE’s YouTube channel Thursday.