Beverly Hills High School offers an extracurricular program called Academic Decathalon (also known as AcaDec or AcaDeca) in which students learn 10 subjects and take tests in competitions. Over the years BHHS kids have returned with good results from both county events and state events, thanks to both the hard work of the students and the dedication of the team’s coach, Philip Chase, an incredibly intelligent and humorous man who spent nearly all of his free time for the kids.
The AcaDeca kids meet frequently after school and on weekends to prepare themselves, but one day after school the current principal walked into the classroom to inform the members that Mr. Chase would be temporarily suspended from his role as the coach, and possibly indefinitely. Pupils waited weeks under the supervision of an adult for their coach’s return, but he never returned; he would never be allowed to come to the school campus or see any of his team members for academic reasons again.
Since the incident in late 2015 until the first third of 2016, AcaDeca kids had to independently arrange meetings in a quiet, off-campus place when school was not in session, no simple task for a group of high school teenagers who lived far apart from each other. Members jumped from place to place, from the Beverly Hills Public Library to Business offices, movie production buildings, and labs in UCLA, mostly locations the AcaDeca team could access thanks to the team’s connections.
Naturally, the team had a harder time concentrating on their studies without the usual support they received from their former coach. The school did assign some staff members as supervisors and alternative coaches; however, they were not experienced enough with the program to have the same effect as Mr. Chase had. As a result, the team’s performance suffered.
Eric Han, a veteran member of the program, stated, “I definitely could have improved my score this year if my coach had been able to stay.… I scored 1000 points higher last year compared to the year before when [Mr. Chase] was around, and I attribute that to my coach’s guidance and preparation.”
Returning AcaDeca participants in BHHS wish to fully recover from this episode and give their best for the upcoming year, eager to learn all about World War II.