For the third year in a row Granada Hills Charter High School has won the statewide "batttle of the brains," taking top prize in California’s statewide Academic Decathlon.
Seventeen Los Angeles County high schools battled it out in Sacramento at the decathlon Friday through Sunday, answering trivia questions from 10 subject areas under the general theme of Russia.
Granada Hills, a charter in the San Fernando Valley that's part of Los Angeles Unified School District, beat out more than 500 students from 61 schools all over California.The team advances to the national competition in April.
On a call with event organizer Ken Scarberry, students could be heard screaming and cheering as officials read the results at the three-hour ceremony Sunday morning.
"A lot of schools were coming for (Granada Hills)," said Scarberry, who is the executive director of the California Academic Decathlon.
Granada Hills Charter High School -- which has gone on to win the national competition twice in a row -- scored 56,165.50 points out of 65,400.
The Granada Hills team includes: Jae Kyung Chong, Seung Woo Baek, Hamidah Mahmud (the Honor Students); Kimberly Ly, Kieelye Ma, Kailin Li (the Scholastic Students); Dayoung Kim, Faria Ghori and Beatrice Dimaunahan (the Varsity Students). The coaches are Matt Arnold, Spencer Wolf and Nick Weber.
El Camino Real Charter High School, also an LAUSD campus, took second place, scoring 55,669.50 points.
Out of 31 years, California has placed first or second every year at the national level except for once in 1982, Scarberry said.
"A lot of other states are going to be gunning for California in the national competition," Scarberry said.
Each nine-student team completed rounds of academia including written tests, interviews and the “Super Quiz” -- a relay of question and answer where each team has 13 seconds to answer.
Franklin High School, and LAUSD campus in Highland Park, won the “Super Quiz” portion.
Scarberry said all of the student competitors are “gifted.”
“Some of these kids can’t believe they achieved a medal at a state competition,” Scarberry said. “It’s an awesome experience to see dozens of medals around their necks.”
The Russian-themed decathlon posited questions to the students about everything from the Space Race between the United States and Soviet Union in the science category to Boris Pasternak’s famous novel "Doctor Zhivago" in the literature category.
Granada Hills will head to Minneapolis on April 25-27 to face schools from 30 other states, Scarberry said.
LAUSD campuses have won 18 statewide decathlon competitions since 1987.