Students at the California State Academic Decathlon at Memorial Auditorium… (Robert Durell / For The Times )
Reporting from Sacramento — Granada Hills Charter High School emerged Monday from two days of intense competition — and nearly a year of preparation — as the winner of the state Academic Decathlon, grabbing the chance to represent California at the national level and joining other Los Angeles Unified schools in a strong showing.
Los Angeles Unified School District campuses nabbed the top three spots in the competition, with Marshall High School in second place and last year's national winner, El Camino Real, placing third. L.A. Unified had six of the top 10 places.
If anything, making it this far is a test of intellectual endurance after months of preparation and competition. The students took a host of tests in such subjects as math, science, social studies, art and music. They also gave speeches and participated in the Super Quiz, a rapid-fire science relay.
The event culminated in an awards ceremony that was, ultimately, a test of patience, as students waited for hours Monday morning to see how they had fared.
Eleven L.A. Unified schools, a record for the district, made it to Sacramento for the competition, joining more than 560 students from 65 high schools across the state.
San Fernando High School won a number of individual awards. Team members Candy Macias, Maria Duran and Jesus Sanchez each took at least one medal; the team had said their goal was to make it to the state championship.
Granada Hills will proceed to the national competition, beginning April 27 in Charlotte, N.C. Team members are Celine Ta, Joon Lee, Austin Kang, Harsimar Dhanoa, Shagun Goyal, Jiyong "Eugene" Lee, Elysia Eastty, Riki Higashida and Sindhura Seeni. They are coached by Matt Arnold, Nicholas Weber and Spencer Wolf.
The celebration won't last long. Senior Eugene Lee, 18, said the focus is to "keep the same momentum and keeping the same intensity."
The other teams have reason to celebrate: They may not have won, but they finally get a break.