Sen. Bob Hertzberg honors Granada Hills High School students

Public high school students win national award for fourth time in five years

June 29, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Members of the Granada Hills Charter High School Academic Decathlon Team stand with Sen. Bob Hertzberg Monday during special recognition ceremonies on the Senate floor for winning the 2015 National  Academic Decathlon Championship.

Beaming like a proud parent, Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, introduced the 11-member team and coaches after asking fellow senators a couple of the questions posed during recent competition, such as:

What is the standard reduction potential of gold?

Answer: 1.692.

Competing against 500 students from 50 states in 10 events covering art, economics, language, literature, mathematics, music and social science over three grueling days, the team scored 53,592 out of a possible 60,000 points in the final national event – the highest scoring team in Academic Decathlon history.

Moreover, the award marked the fourth time in five years that GHCHS won the top award.

“It’s a pretty prestigious program,” teacher Matt Arnold, one of the team’s coaches, said about the academic challenge. “There’s nothing else like it in the country.”

To earn a spot on the school’s Academic Decathlon Team, up to 50 of the 4,300 students attending the public school in Hertzberg’s Senate District 18  compete in open tryouts each year.

To meet the goal of having a team that reflects a cross section of the school, a third of the student members must have a grade-point average of A; a third must have a B average and the final third a C average.

Once selected, team members study after school and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for about four months prior to local, state and national competition.

The members of this year’s team are: Jorge Zepeda, Peter Cho, Joshua Lin, Natalie Gonzalez, Jenean Docter, Aishah Mahmud, Jasmin Kim, Fernando Sanchez, Tanthai Pongstein, Irene Lee, and Jihee Han.

Their coaches are Arnold, Jonathan Sturtevant and Rachel Phipps; team administrators are Marilyn Koziatek and Julia Howelman.

“This achievement is not only a reflection of the students’ academic ability, but also of the distinguished guidance of parents and school staff,” Hertzberg said.



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