Academic Decathlon wins nationals for the seventh time


Granada Hills Charter High School (GHC) won the Academic Decathlon (ACADECA) Nationals for the seventh time in school history. From March 25 to 27, GHC competed at the nationals in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year, the main topic was the 1960’s: A Transformative Decade. This was a comeback after the team came in second during the state competition to El Camino Real Charter High School last year.

Acadeca is a competition that tests both US and international students on their knowledge of science, literature, art, music, social science, economics, and mathematics. Students also write a timed essay, deliver both prepared and impromptu speeches, and are interviewed by judges. The final event is a Super Quiz in which teammates collaborate to answer questions in front of an audience.

According to Linda Kang, college counselor and ACADECA coach, the team spent most of their free time practicing for the nationals while still being energetic about the experience.

“We knew that we had some amazing teams from other states that we’d be competing with. The students sacrificed a lot of time to prepare, and gave up their entire spring break to work tirelessly. Their efforts were focused to master even the slightest details, such as dates, times, and names, and perfecting their speeches. Though the students were definitely exhausted, the atmosphere during this last stretch preparing for the competition was positive, fun and motivating,” Kang said.

Senior Dilawar Khan, a member of ACADECA, won the highest individual award of the event, the Top Scorer Overall.

“After competing for the last two years in the individual competition and the online competition, it was incredible to end my decathlon experience as a senior representing California in the national competition against teams from the United States, China, and England. Receiving the highest individual score in the competition was the climax of my experience in the Academic Decathlon and I’m incredibly proud that my teammates’ hard work was recognized with the top team score in the nation” Khan said.

Members of the team also scored in the top five for each five events. For example, Nicole Dersahakian won a gold medal in the art event.

Overall, GHC won the Nationals and achieved in getting the highest individual award. Coaches and students hope that they will be able to achieve the same heights next year. Kang especially hopes that the drive of this group will be passed down to the next one.

“I hope next year’s team is as open, dedicated, and determined to win as this year’s team. We had three returners on this year’s team who knew what it felt like to suffer a loss last year and because of that, they worked even harder. The amount of effort they put in was not only for themselves, so that they’d have no regrets regardless of the outcome, but also for their teammates, so that their teammates’ efforts wouldn’t be sacrificed or wasted. That kind of spirit brings up the level of motivation and drive, and I would hope the same for next year’s team – that they’d be driven for their teammates,” Kang said.

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