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Two high schools take the top L.A. County decathlon honors

Granada Hills Charter and Torrance's West High win in the region and will go on to the state competition.

February 10, 2012|Rick Rojas
  • West High's coach, Ann Cortina, hugs student Vidya Premkumar. The team from Torrance won the Los Angeles County regional academic decathlon for the fourth year in a row.
West High's coach, Ann Cortina, hugs student Vidya Premkumar. The… (Katie Falkenberg / For the…)

Granada Hills Charter High School, last year's national Academic Decathlon champion, and West High School in Torrance, another perennial top team, were named the winners Thursday in Los Angeles' regional decathlon competitions.

Granada Hills, which won Los Angeles Unified its 12th national title in North Carolina last year, took the top place out of the 63 teams that competed in the school district's regional competition.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, February 12, 2012 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 43 words Type of Material: Correction
Academic Decathlon: An article in the Feb. 10 LATExtra section about Los Angeles County's Academic Decathlon competitions gave the wrong score for Granada Hills student Julia Wall, the second-highest individual scorer in the Los Angeles Unified competition. She scored 8,655 points, not 8,622.

Scoring 51,913 points out of 60,000, the school had one of the highest scores among the nation's regional-level competitions.

West High School -- for the fourth time -- claimed the highest score (45,132 points) in the regional competition for the rest of Los Angeles County's public schools, which was sponsored by the county's Office of Education.

The results were announced at separate awards ceremonies Thursday.

Aside from the winners from each competition, almost two dozen other public schools from Los Angeles County have been invited to take part in the state competition in Sacramento next month.

Joining Granada Hills from L.A. Unified will be a number of consistent top performers -- and former national winners -- including Marshall High School (49,648 points), El Camino Real Charter High (48,649), Franklin (47,812) and Taft (43,074). Also heading to Sacramento will be Van Nuys (40,1771), Palisades Charter (40,837), Hamilton (40,760), Garfield (40,382), Bell (39,821), Los Angeles (39,690) and San Pedro (37,626).

The top four scores, organizers said, were the top four regional scores in the country.

"It just speaks to how competitive it is in Los Angeles," said Spencer Wolf, a Granada Hills coach. "We all push each other."

The top two individual scorers came from Granada Hills: Sean Wejebe scored 9,199 points and Julia Wall, 8,622.

Min-Sun Jun of Marshall had the third highest score, with 8,653 points.

Granada Hills returned with an all new team, but the competitors say they don't feel pressure to keep up the pace with their predecessors.

"We're a different team," said Priscilla Liu, a senior, "with our own goals and our own aspirations."

Hamidah Mahmud, a junior, said they've learned to take each test and each competition in stride.

"We're not held down by what we did in the past," she said. "We're always moving forward."

Los Angeles Unified has historically been the best-performing school district in the country in the competition, winning more national titles than any other.

The decathlon includes tests in math, science, literature, music and art.

From the Los Angeles County competition, the teams going to the state competition are Redondo Union High School (42,317), Beverly Hills (41,684), Arcadia (39,408), Burbank (39,347), Palos Verdes Peninsula (39,282), El Rancho in Pico Rivera (38,690), South High in Torrance (38,092), and Torrance (37,726).

In the county competition, the top individual scorers were David Wang, a Palos Verdes Peninsula senior, with 8,357 points; Lisa Beckman, a West High School senior, with 8,273 points; and Luke Murphy, a Redondo Union sophomore, with 8,168.

--

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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