GRANADA HILLS — Granada Hills Charter High School students are back-to-back National Academic Decathlon champions.
Preliminary results show that the Granada Hills Charter team has broken many records at the national competition, including the highest-ever point total for a school in the history of the National Academic Decathlon competition.
The second consecutive national crown for Granada Hills Charter was announced April 28 from Albuquerque, N.M., where the team was competing in the most prestigious national academic team competition for high school students. Granada Hills Charter remains the only charter school in the over 30-year history of the National Academic Decathlon competition to claim the national title, and is only the third school to win back-to-back national titles.
Granada Hills Charter beat out a crowded field of over 30 teams. including past national champion Waukesha West High School (Wisconsin) as well as contenders Rockwall High School (Texas), Whitney Young Magnet High School (Illinois), and Mountain View High School (Arizona). The team earned 54,081 out of 60,000 points.
Academic Decathlon is a grueling two-day competition that tests participants on a range of topics from math and science to art and literature in all kinds of formats. There are multiple-choice, fast-paced trivia questions, essays, speeches and interview competitions. The teams are made up of three “A” students, three “B” students and three “C” students, who spend hours studying and preparing for the competition. This year's theme was “The Age of Empire.”
The team members are Christian Koguchi ('12), Stella Lee ('12), Priscilla Liu ('12), Kimberly Ly ('13), Hamidah Mahmud ('13), Lev Tauz ('12), Julia Wall ('12), Sean Wejebe ('12), and Jimmy Wu ('12). Their coaches are Mathew Arnold, Spencer Wolf and Nick Weber.
“What an amazing feat for this team and their coaches!” said Executive Director Brian Bauer. “Their results and comportment during the entire decathlon season make all of us in the Granada Hills Charter community and the larger community of charter and traditional public schools extremely proud.”
Earlier this year, Granada Hills Charter took first place in the Los Angeles Academic Decathlon competition and last month captured the state title in Sacramento. With the 2012 national title, Granada Hills Charter has captured the “triple slam” – local, state and national Academic Decathlon titles – in the same year. The team also captured the local, state and national titles in 2011.
The decathletes, their coaches, and administrator Julia Howelman returned to Granada Hills Charter on April 30 for a celebratory “welcome back” at the school entrance. Following a reception and press interviews, the morning concluded with breakfast in the staff cafeteria for the team, coaches and their family members.
Christian Koguchi: 8,648
Stella Lee: 6,890
Priscilla Liu: 8,707
Kimberly Ly: 8,695
Hamidah Mahmud: 9,041
Lev Tauz: 9,430
Julia Wall: 8,624
Sean Wejebe: 9,441
Jimmy Wu: 9,182 (first C student to break 9,000)
Overall score of 54,081, the highest score ever achieved.
Granada Hills Charter High School, the largest charter school in the nation, is an independent public school in the San Fernando Valley. It made history nearly nine years ago when almost all of its employees — teachers, classified staff and administrators — along with over 2,000 parents, signed its charter petition for independence from Los Angeles Unified.
As a fiscally independent conversion charter school, Granada Hills Charter has a student enrollment this year of over 4,200 and an annual student wait list of approximately 2,000. The school's student body is considered one of the most diverse, with more than 40 languages other than English spoken at home and over 60 nationalities represented.
Along with an API of 876 — the highest of any public comprehensive high school in Los Angeles — Granada Hills Charter is a 2011 California Distinguished School.