Students across Kern are preparing for their big shot at glory as the time nears for a series of academic events that will put their education to the test.
The county Superintendent of Schools office on Monday released a list of competitions and showcases it will administer through spring. It said thousands of local students will participate — and hopefully, some will go on to bigger stages.
"Winning at the county level can mean a trip to state and perhaps national venues for those who have been diligently preparing since the school year began last August," office spokesman Rob Meszaros wrote in the release.
Things kick off Thursday with day one of the Kern County Academic Decathlon. The private event will cover three parts of the competition — essays, speeches and interviews — before resuming Feb. 2 for the final seven academic categories. The winning team will continue to state finals scheduled for March 21-24. Nationals are set for April 18-20 in Madison, Wis.
The following week, on Jan. 19, mock trial teams from local high schools will converge at Kern County Superior Courts to try their hands at acting as prosecutors, defense attorneys, defendants and witnesses. After six hours of public speaking, critical analysis and deduction, winners will be announced at a 4:30 p.m. awards ceremony at East High School. The state competition is set for March 15-17 in Fresno.
One week later, students who have memorized a published literary work will have their chance to present their interpretation of it from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Kern County Oral Language Festival at Stonecreek Junior High. Categories include verse choir, humorous interpretation solo and serious interpretation duo.
High school musicians who have earned the privilege will perform Jan. 29 at Grand Night for Music starting at 7 p.m. at the Rabobank Convention Center. Student band, choir and orchestra members are selected for participation based on an audition process. A similar event for junior-high and middle-school music students has been scheduled for 7 p.m. March 2 at the Rabobank.
On Feb. 2, local students will go up against teams from across California in the We the People Congressional Hearings state finals in Sacramento. The event tests teams' knowledge of the U.S. Constitution.
Students with a knack for writing, artistry or performance have the opportunity to shine starting at 9 a.m. March 9 at Kern County History Day. The event encourages students to research and prepare papers, exhibits, performances and documentaries based on an annual historical theme.
The Kern County Science Fair March 12 at the Rabobank offers local elementary through high school students the chance to win medals and cash for their experiments. Winners may go on to the State Science Fair April 29-30 in Los Angeles.
The Henry Greve Speech Contest March 14 at the KCSOS headquarters in downtown Bakersfield will give seventh- and eighth-graders an opportunity to win recognition for their original work. The speeches must measure between 4½ and seven minutes.
Student authors will have their works displayed at the Young Authors' Fair 8 a.m. to noon at the Larry E. Reider Educational Center. A similar event is set for the same hours and location on April 28.
Mathematics will be the focus April 27 at Math Field Day at Liberty High School, where middle and junior-high students will learn and compete in individual and group contests.
Prolific readers will have their day — three of them, actually — when the Kern Battle of the Books takes place at the Kern County Museum. Fourth- through sixth-graders will be asked questions May 6, 7 and 10 about approved books they have read.
The final local event of the school year will be the Bank of America Speech Contest May 9 at the Larry E. Reider Educational Center. For local fourth- through sixth-graders, the competition offers trophies and cash to writers of the best essays on a given theme.