Omar Rashad / LA Times
West Torrance High School

Seniors carry West Torrance Science Olympiad at State

“Two years ago, these Warriors were nonexistent, but now they’re tenth in state.” That is a sentiment that really spoke volumes in regards to the growth of West Torrance Science Olympiad, as they recently got tenth place overall at the 2017 SoCal State Science Olympiad Tournament.

Cindy Cao was a sophomore when she first thought of the idea of making a West Torrance Science Olympiad team, so she banded together with other STEM-minded individuals and decided to make the activity something big at West High. With a team that was small, but destined for growth, Cao initiated the effort required to create not only a new club, but a new West High team and activity.

Having almost no experience in Science Olympiad did not stop Cao, along with her new team of Science Olympians, as they began to expand and create a bigger network and environment for STEM-oriented students.

Senior Matt Choi described Science Olympiad when he said, “It’s like a generally positive environment because there’s just a bunch of people who are really hardworking, they all want to do their best, and they all help each other out. So, people doing events together, they will always support each other and they’ll always have someone to rely on.”

In order to achieve the potential prizes and accolades that this unique group of individuals have looked to attain, the seniors who have fostered this program at West High have been successful in creating an impactful and one of a kind learning environment.

Furthermore, after being in Science Olympiad for two years, Junior Julian Rachman noticed this impact that the seniors made.

He said, “This is our second year in Science Olympiad and [the Seniors] showing that much dedication to create this environment and bring together this great group of students is really good. So, the fact that they worked it out is a great thing.”

Steven Gee, Annie Bui, and Cindy Cao make their way back to home base following the Towers C Event
Omar Rashad / LA Times

It seems that this atmosphere truly did foster greatness because in their first year of competition in the 2015-16 season, the West Torrance team grew considerably. West was finally going to the State Competition after placing 1st at the Antelope Valley Regionals. They ended up take 22nd place at the state-wide Caltech hosted competition, and although they weren’t top dogs yet, with just a little more experience, these West High students made sure to surprise us all in the following season.

Senior Danny Son said, “The first time [we competed], we went to invitationals, and we got 6th [place], and so we didn’t expect much for regionals. And then surprisingly, we got 1st [at Regionals]. So that kind of gave us a new perspective on our performance. So that’s why this year, our perspective, our motivation, and our drive changed.”

Just when you would think that West High would potentially plateau at their newfound level, they only got better. This past Saturday at the 2017 SoCal State Science Olympiad Tournament, they placed an outstanding 10th in state, moving up the rankings at an incredible rate. Out of all 23 events, West Torrance medaled in 6 events. They placed 6th in Astronomy, 6th in Electric Vehicle, 6th in Materials Science, 2nd in Forensics, 2nd in Rubber-Powered Airplane, and 1st in Ecology.

Amidst all the awards and accolades that this stellar group of West High students have attained, Science Olympiad has offered something beyond the prizes. The seniors who initially created Science Olympiad molded together a great environment, one in which they’ve all grown closer together.

The West Torrance Science Olympiad team bring it in for a huddle, as they have all enjoyed their time at CalTech.
Omar Rashad / LA Times

As characterized by Senior Steven Gee, “The seniors are close, like a really close-knit group. It happened more or less because there were a group of people who were sort-of kind-of friends and they got closer essentially. They found that what they were doing was actually working, and we ended up spending a lot more time with each other.”

By building on a common science platform, provided by Science Olympiad, these students have gained experiences and had wonderful times achieving their awards and attaining their success.

The road doesn’t end there— well, maybe for the seniors and their further competition in high school events. As these seniors graduate and move on from the program they created, the environment they curated, and the success they’ve paved way for, they have much to look ahead to.

President Cindy Cao said, “A lot of us are going to keep doing Science Olympiad in college, not competing but maybe thinking of running these events. I think it really impacted our school lives. It definitely changed us because we put so much time and effort into this in the last two years, it has become a big part of our high school experience.

In other words, passing the baton to the next group of seniors will be a memorable experience as their season comes to a close. For every Science Olympiad State Competition, only the school that wins first place gets a chance to go to the Science Olympiad National Competition. However, seeing how West went from nothing, to 22nd, and now to 10th, sure enough, in the coming years, these West Torrance Warriors will be crowned with the chance to compete on the national stage. This is only the beginning as this young, two-year-old program, is a force to be wary of.