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Granada Hills Charter High School wins US Academic Decathlon

April 28, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Granada Hills Charter High School won the U.S. Academic Decathlon for the third year in a row, beating competitors from all over the country.

The Granada Hills team beat six-time national winner El Camino Real Charter High School, which finished second.

On Monday, band members serenaded a select group of their fellow students to celebrate a job well done.

The public school's 9-member U.S. Academic Decathlon team won the 2013 national title. It's the 3rd straight victory for Granada Hills, but it was no easy feat.

"It's been an uphill battle the entire time because coming back from nationals last year, I was tired and I was beat," said student Hamidah Mahmud. "I did not think I would do it again. I didn't think I had the energy or the stamina."

This year's competition focused on Russia. Students at the competition in Minneapolis tested their skills against the brightest students from around the country in 10 categories including literature, economics and music.

The Granada Hills team spent countless hours hitting the books to strengthen their weaknesses.

"I used to be reluctant with calculus or trigonometry but I had to keep practicing problems to overcome weaknesses that I always tried to avoid," said student Bea Dimaunahan.

With the support of their teammates and their coaches, the team gained momentum and confidence.

"There was really a lot of effort just to get kids to come together, get kids to really believe in themselves and be confident," said Coach Spencer Wolf. "And it's been really rewarding to see because now they finally realize how exceptional we always thought they were from the beginning."

The academic decathlon team members have several medals to wear for bragging rights and banners to boost school pride. But the 3-peat champs say the lasting friendships they've established are perhaps the best awards anyone can take home.

"It was also a really rewarding experience not only because we won but also that w made a lot of friends for the future and the fact that we learned a lot of lessons for life in general," said student Jake Chong.

Granada Hills Charter High School is the only charter school in the history of the U.S. Academic Decathlon to claim the national title and the only public school to earn that title three years in a row. The win is the 14th national victory for the Los Angeles Unified School District in the history of the competition.


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