For the fifth time in six years and the sixth time overall, defending national champion Granada Hills Charter High School has won the Los Angeles Unified School District Academic Decathlon.
Granada Hills scored 55,175.7 points out of a possible 60,000 in the competition, district officials announced Friday night at an awards ceremony at Hollywood High School. Marshall High School was second with 55,029.8 and Franklin High School was third with 54,713.7.
Granada Hills won the U.S. Academic Decathlon championship in 2015, its fourth national championship in five years. It has won a total of six district championships, with previous victories in 2007, 2011-13 and 2015.
Ten other teams also qualified for the California Academic Decathlon, which will be held March 17-20 in Sacramento: El Camino Real Charter; Garfield Senior High School; Bell High School; Van Nuys High School; Grant High School; Nathaniel Narbonne High School; Hamilton High School; North Hollywood High School; Cleveland Charter High School; and Lincoln High School. Cleveland Charter and Lincoln qualified for the state competition for the first time.
Joshua Lin of Granada Hills was the top individual scorer with 9,641.4 points, surpassing records set by Kris Sankaran of Moorpark in 2009 and Irene Lee of Granada Hills in 2015. Other members of the Granada Hills team are: Melissa Santos, Aishah Mahmud, Mark Aguila, Jorge Zepeda, Isha Gupta, Julian Duran, Christopher Lo and Mayeena Ulkarim. The coach is Larry Welch.
“Heartfelt congratulations to the Granada Hills High School team for their stellar performance,” L.A. Unified Board Member Scott M. Schmerelson, who represents the winning school, said in a statement. “It was most gratifying to witness all of our students, regardless of school model, competing together in this epic academic pursuit. Every student was excited, competitive and determined to do their best.”
Lin also won the top prize in the Honor Division (grade-point average of 3.75 and above) with 9641.4 points. Abeer Hossain from Marshall High School was honored as the best scoring student in the Scholastic Division (GPA 3.00-3.74) with 9287.8 points; and Alex Munoz from Franklin High School was recognized as the highest-scoring student in the Varsity Division (GPA 2.99 and below) with 9276.4 points.
Kevin Murchie of Garfield Senior High School and Larry Welch of Marshall High School shared the Coach of the Year award.
The Academic Decathlon began Jan. 30 at the Roybal Learning Center near downtown Los Angeles, with teams competing in the speech, interview and essay portions. The competition concluded Feb. 6 with tests in art, economics, language and literature, mathematics, music and social science and the Super Quiz, also at the Roybal Learning Center. The study topic was India.
Granada Hills won the Super Quiz competition, with a perfect score of 5,400 points. Marshall placed second with 5,175 points.
Over the years, L.A. Unified has emerged as an academic decathlon powerhouse, with several of its high school teams consistently winning local, state and national titles. Schools from L.A. Unified have won 16 national championships, more than any other school district in the nation.
In the academic decathlon competition, each school team fields nine students—three students from three different grade-point average (GPA) categories—Varsity (2.99 GPA and below), Scholastic (3.00-3.74 GPA) and Honor (3.75 and above GPA).
“There are not enough superlatives to describe the brilliance, efforts, and teamwork of the decathletes and coaches from L.A. Unified,” said Cliff Ker, the district's coordinator for Academic Events. “Their quest for academic excellence becomes more amazing each year."