Stella Maris Catholic school captures academic honors

Stella Maris Academy, a parish school associated with Mary Star of the Sea Parrish on Girard Avenue, captured second place in a recently held Junior High Academic Decathlon and won the distinction of representing the San Diego Catholic Diocese in the statewide competition on May 3.

Competing against 18 other area schools, including one from Las Vegas, the 10-member team not only scored first- and second-place honors in specific events, but took five other honors as well.

Eighth-grader Sinead Horgan took a first in literature on an exam based on the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Seventh-grader Abby Balmert scored top honors in English with questions that tested knowledge in grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and capitalization.

The team won fourth place in the “Super Quiz,” which included 50 questions in such categories as The Chronicles of Narnia, The Beatles, Volcanoes, Abraham Lincoln, and the Acts of the Apostles.

“I have been coaching the Stella Maris Academic Decathlon team for the past five years, and this year’s team has been the most dedicated, hard-working team we’ve ever had,” said Jan Zipp, Decathlon Faculty Advisor. “The amount of extra work placed before them may seem staggering to some, but they seem to enjoy the challenge.”

“Words can not describe how incredibly proud we are of our SMA decathletes. We could not have a more focused, unified, and academically prepared team to represent our diocese in the upcoming state competition,” principal Pat Lowell said. “Our students are ready to give their personal best. We are confident it will be a great day for Stella Maris Academy and the Diocese of San Diego.”

Team members earning individual awards were eighth-graders Patrick Bones, who placed second in Current Events; Conrad McGarry, third-place Science winner; and Camille Johansen, who placed sixth in Social Studies. Seventh-grader Eileen Kitrick won third place in fine arts, and Ian Dillingham, representing eighth grade, placed fifth in mathematics.

Rounding out the team were Samantha Carman (8th grade); Julia Slupska (7th grade) and asmin Hellman (6th grade).

Stella Maris Academy is a parochial K-8th school. For more information, call (858) 454-2461 or visit