Angelica Juarez, from left, Ruben Mendez and Vanessa Vasquez from Bell… (Francine Orr / Los Angeles…)
They won nationals. Then they won it again, setting record scores.
And on Friday, the winning streak in the Los Angeles Unified School District's Academic Decathlon continued for Granada Hills Charter High School. The school beat out dozens of Los Angeles campuses in the district-wide competition, it was announced Friday evening at an awards ceremony.
In the 10-subject battle of wits, the competitors — from 58 L.A. Unified schools — faced such subjects as math and science, literature, music and art, as well as gave speeches and were interviewed by judges. Teams can receive up to 60,000 points. Granada Hills placed first with over 56,000 points.
But it was a close competition this year. Granada Hills edged out Marshall High School by fewer than 400 points. Third-place Franklin High and fourth-place El Camino Real Charter both scored over 55,000 points. The fifth-place team, Bell High, scored slightly below 48,000.
Those teams, as well as those from Garfield, Hamilton, Narbonne, Francis Polytechnic and North Hollywood high schools, will continue to the statewide competition, beginning March 15, in Sacramento.
"I'm amazed!" Granada Hills senior Faria Ghori said, a bounty of medals hanging from her neck. "But the scores are so close! State is going to be anyone's game."
The competition — with a highest possible individual score of 10,000 points — is broken into three divisions, for A, B and C students. Marvin Paparisto of Marshall had the highest score for the A-student honors division with 9,252.9 points. Kailin Li of Granada Hills topped the B-level scholastic division with 8,836.4 points. Alex Moreno of Franklin had the highest score of 8,837.9 points in the C-level varsity division.
Three other students in the honors division — Hamidah Mahmud and Jae Kyung Chong of Granada Hills, and Jonathan Yih of El Camino Real — scored higher than 9,000 points.
Rina Kim, a Granada Hills senior, said her team won't take their success for granted because other teams are right on their heels. "We have to be better," she said of the team's motivation for state, "not just be satisfied with what we have."