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“It's an Incredible Feeling”: Academic Decathlon Champs Celebrated at Granada Hills Charter HS

The San Fernando Valley school scored 54,195.1 out of a possible 60,000 points to win the national competition.

A team from Granada Hills Charter High School was welcomed with cheers, awards and lots of praise Monday after winning the 2016 U.S. Academic Decathlon in Anchorage, Alaska -- the school's fifth title in the last six years.

The San Fernando Valley school scored 54,195.1 out of a possible 60,000 points to win the overall competition Saturday, where more than 450 students from the U.S., Canada, China and the United Kingdom gathered to compete.

Team members Mark Aguila, Julian Duran, Isha Gupta, Joshua Lin, Christopher Lo, Aishah Mahmud, Melissa Santos, Mayeena Ulkarim and Jorge Zepeda returned to school Monday morning, and were greeted with a rally to celebrate their win. 

"We're really just grateful to be here with everyone who is here to celebrate with us," said Melissa Santos, a junior at the school and member of the decathlon team. "It's an incredible feeling."

The victory was not only for the students, but for their teachers, friends and parents.

"I don't want to brag," Aida Santos, Melissa's mother said. "She has potential to be a leader."

"Congratulations to the decathlon team for a stellar performance throughout the Academic Decathlon season," said Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Michelle King. "The entire L.A. Unified family is extremely proud of your unwavering determination, pride and selflessness. You are all champions."

The nine-member team is made up of A, B and C average students who have gained more than medals along the way.


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"I came into decathlon really shy," said Joshua Lin, a senior at Granada Hills Charter. "These guys have really shown me that I can be myself in front of them."

Granada Hills Charter High School has dominated the state and national competition recently. The team beat 68 other schools at the California Academic Decathlon in March, scoring a record 61,149.6 points out of a possible 65,400. It has also won four of the last five national titles -- from 2011 to 2013, and again in 2015.

A California school has now won the U.S. title 14 years in a row, and LAUSD schools have won 17 national titles since 1986. City News Service contributed to this report.

City News Service contributed to this report. 

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