Granada Hills Charter High School won its eighth national Academic Decathlon championship this weekend, officials announced Saturday. The team scored 52,656.7 points out of a possible 60,000.
Granada Hills, which had most recently won the title in 2019, beat out its long-time rival, El Camino Real Charter High School in Woodland Hills, to win the state competition in late March.
This year's winning team of students is Dwaipayan Chanda, Eunice Choi, Joshua Choi, Rachel Heo (alternate), Chloe Hyun, Aroa Kim (alternate), Justin Kim, Hirusha Liyanage, Anthony Mercado (alternate), Jasdeep Sidhu, and Zorex Villadelgado, Jr. The coaches were Alina Lee, Linda Kang and Amy Contreras.
The competition was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Like last year, this competition was a big shift for everyone involved,” Lee said. “It was important to focus on maintaining our momentum without our normal face-to-face interactions. Our program is built on teamwork and accountability so keeping the sense of connection among our students was a top priority. I am really impressed how well everyone responded, and I'm very excited for our team.”
The topic of this year's competition was The Cold War. Students competed in seven subject areas including science, literature, art, music, social science, economics and mathematics.
Topics included the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union, music from the era and a focus on “Cat's Cradle” by Kurt Vonnegut. The competition included multiple-choice exams in each subject, as well as essays, interviews and speeches.
Second place in Division 1 went to Highland Park High School in Texas, with Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Illinois taking third.
“I know everyone on the team worked very hard under extremely trying conditions to prepare for the competitions, so we all are excited for their success,” said Brian Bauer, executive director of Granada Hills Charter.
“In a normal year, the unexpected challenges of Academic Decathlon go beyond learning about the topics and honing skills for the 10 different events. There are challenges of making time for all the preparations, of staying focused and determined and facing odds that can feel daunting. This year's team again demonstrated the perseverance needed to compete at such a high level, and they deserve this victory.”