Granada Hills High wins U.S. Academic Decathlon in first-ever appearance
C.J. Lin, Staff Writer | Contra Costa Times (Daily News) | http://bit.ly/lGGB1e
Granada Hills Charter High School won the U.S. Academic Decathlon on Saturday, beating out 35 other teams in the national competition. (Courtesy of Cliff Ker)
Granada Hills Charter High School wasted no time in its first-ever appearance at the U.S. Academic Decathlon on Saturday, winning its first national championship and sweeping most of the individual scoring divisions.
The nine-member team took the top overall score with 52,113.5 out of 60,000 points, with the second-place team, a Texas high school, trailing them by 1,677 points.
"It was hard to grasp at first," said senior Riki Higashida, who also won a gold medal in the math category. "It was surreal. It didn't really hit me. It still hasn't hit me yet that we won."
The win was an unprecedented one for a newcomer to the annual battle of the brains competition, held in Charlotte, N.C. this year.
"It's really unusual, because there's a history of teams going to nationals for the first time and doing well, but not winning the title," said Cliff Ker, LAUSD coordinator for the Academic Decathlon. "These guys came and not only won the Rookie of the Year Award but the national title as well."
The rookie award is given to a school who has never made it to the finals and has the highest score among the teams in each division.
"It feels great to know we've been able to continue California's legacy," said senior Harsimar Dhanoa. "There was a fear of `What if we weren't good enough?' But once they called our name, all that was gone. We were able to do it."
The school, which for the last seven years has been building a decathlon dynasty to join the ranks of the powerhouse schools in the San Fernando Valley, beat out 35 other teams, including one from London.
"It's an honor for us to be the ones to make the mark on Granada's history," said decathlete Eugene Lee. "And to be the first rookie team to win the national title."
The decathletes were tested on 10 subjects including math, science and art, gave speeches and interviews, and competed in the Super Quiz, a fast-paced trivia relay, in the grueling and nerve-wracking two-day event. This year's theme for the questions was the Great Depression.
The teams are composed of three students from each of three grade-point average categories - A, B and C. Decathletes won gold medals in all three categories and added a bronze in the A division and silver in the B division.
Students from El Camino Real, Taft, Marshall and Moorpark high schools have traditionally dominated the competition, with El Camino, the defending champion, holding six national titles.
"Those four have had a stranglehold on California for the last 25 years," said Nick Weber, coach of the Granada Hills team. "So for us to break out of state, that's pretty remarkable."
The win marks a record 12th time that a campus affiliated with the Los Angeles Unified School District has captured the top spot.
To prepare for the challenge, the students sacrificed their spring break and studied 10 to 11 hours a day.
"These kids are probably the hardest working and closest-knit group of kids I've seen in all my years," Ker said. "They had no problem putting in all the extra hours they knew they had to put in."
The decathletes also include seniors Austin Kang, Elysia Eastty, Joon Lee, Shagun Goyal, Sindhura Seeni and sophomore Celine Ta.
The coaches are Weber, Matt Arnold and Spencer Wolf.
The team returned to the Southland on Saturday night, and will be honored Monday at school with a celebration.
"I am so proud of our GHCHS decathletes and their coaches for their first national title," said Brian Bauer, executive director of the school. "The GHCHS community is ecstatic about this amazing feat and honored to be represented by such an outstanding group of young people. We look forward to their triumphant return to campus."
LAUSD School Wins Academic Decathlon, Again: Granada Hills Charter High School won the 2011 Academic Decathlon competition
KNBC NEWS/from City News Service | http://bit.ly/mbSILr
Saturday, Apr 30, 2011 | Updated 1:00 PM PDT - Granada Hills Charter High School won the 2011 Academic Decathlon competition, marking the 12th straight year that an LA Unified School District-affiliated school has won.
The team won in Charlotte, N.C., and was scheduled to return to Los Angeles Saturday night.
The nine pupils scored 52,113.5 points out of the 60,000 possible, and bested 35 other schools in this year's finals, the district said.
The members are Harsimar Dhanoa, Elysia Eastty, Shagun Goyal, Rikiu Higashida, Austin Kang, Jiyong "Eugene" Lee, Joon Lee, Shindhura Seeni and Celine Ta. Coaches are Matt Arnold, Nicolas Weber and Spencer Wolf.
The pressure's on for Texas, California teams at Academic Decathlon
By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times | http://lat.ms/l1AXuO
Granada Hills Charter High and a school near Houston rekindle a rivalry between the states. The teams have analyzed each other's results and attempted to nail down their weaknesses. [more]