LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Granada Hills Charter High School celebrated its academic decathlon team, which returned to campus Monday as seven-time champions in just eight years.
The school hosted a victory rally before class Monday to celebrate the team’s seventh national championship after last weekend’s competition in Bloomington, Minn. The nine-member team of students and coaches is the seventh team from Granada Hills Charter High to win the national title in the past eight years.
“Each year is a tough challenge that forces the decathletes not only to bear down and study hard but also overcome disappointments and moments when they really are pushed to new limits,” head coach Alina Lee said in a statement.
The team included Dwaipayan Chanda, Connie Chen, Tamara Cruz, Nicole Dershakian, Lelija Kazlauskas, Dilawar Khan, Ben LaFreniere, Kenny Ly, Jared Matsubayashi, Isabel Mercado, Ezhan Mirza, and Jasdeep Sidhu. They were coached by Lee, Linda Kang, and Amy Contreras.
Three of the students – Tamara Cruz, Benjamin LaFreniere and Ezhan Mirza – won college scholarships for collectively garnering their highest group score. Dilawar Khan, Kenny Ly and Lelija Kazlauskas had such high individual scores, they also earned college scholarships, while Jared Matsubayashi was given the highest score for his combined speech and interview, and received a standing ovation while reciting his speech during the awards ceremony.
Granada Hills Charter High previously won the national decathlon title in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. San Fernando Valley schools have made a strong showing in the Academic Decathlon National Championships since 2001, with El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills winning 6 years during that time, Taft High School — also in Woodland Hills — winning in 2006, and Moorpark High School in neighboring Ventura County taking the title in 2003, 2008, and 2009.