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Berkmar wins 6th academic trophy

LILBURN - For the sixth year in a row, Berkmar High School's Academic Decathlon team received the Howard Stroud Championship trophy for scoring the highest points overall in the annual state competition.

Although the team has enjoyed success in recent years, coach Chris Pae said the students don't take it for granted. Pae said the students work hard to prepare for the Decathlon, which includes tests in seven content areas and three communication events.

Pae, who was on Berkmar's Decathlon team when he was a student, remembers that the team didn't always perform well. He said former coach IV Bray laid the foundation for success, and teachers in many subject areas work with Pae and assistant coach Brian Bernhardt to help the students prepare for the two-day state competition.

"The students work extremely hard and to see them get the rewards at the end is great," Pae said.

Berkmar's students were among more than 200 pupils from 23 high schools that competed in the event. Students were tested in economics, art, language and literature, mathematics, science, music and the written Super Quiz. Players also earned points in public speaking, a personal interview and a written essay.

A wild card team from Parkview High School, coached by Melodie Clecker and Amy Hammond, was the second runner-up in Division I in the state competition.

Berkmar also placed first in the Super Quiz Oral Relay, a quiz bowl that takes place in front of a live audience. Another wild card team from Mill Creek High School, coached by Lori Bowen, was the second runner-up in the quiz bowl.

The competition is unique because teams are made up of honors students (those who have A averages), scholastic students (those who have B averages) and varsity students (those who have a C average).

Pae said it's good that the competition gets the varsity students involved, because it makes them feel valued.

Berkmar's team will represent the state in the U.S. Academic Decathlon National Finals in April in Garden Grove, Calif. The team received a $1,000 award from Apple Inc. to help defray travel expenses to the 40th annual National Finals.

"The students are excited," Pae said. "They're looking forward to the trip ... and they're still working hard for nationals."

The Georgia Academic Decathlon is one of several programs of academic excellence sponsored by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation. Other academic competitions include PAGE Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition (STAR) program and the PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades.

The following Gwinnett County students received individual awards in the state Academic Decathlon:

Berkmar High School

· Liana Nisimova received a gold medal for having the overall highest scores in the Honors Division. Nisimova was also awarded the following medals in the Honors Division: gold medals in art, interview, math, science and Super Quiz, silver medals in essay and speech, and a bronze medal in music.

· Agni Chandora received a silver medal for having the second overall highest scores in the Honors Division. Chandora was also awarded the following medals in the Honors Division: gold medals in art and speech, silver medals in music and science, and bronze medals in essay, language and literature and Super Quiz.

· Mai Himedan received a gold medal for having the overall highest scores in the Varsity Division. Himedan was also awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: gold medals in art, interview and science, silver medals in essay, language and literature, music and speech, and a bronze medal in math.

· Andrew Harazin received a bronze medal for having the third overall highest scores in the Scholastic Division. Harazin was also awarded the following medals in the Scholastic Division: a gold medal in speech and silver medal in math.

· Fahad Chowdhury received a bronze medal for having the third overall highest scores in the Varsity Division. Chowdhury was also awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: gold medals in music and science, and silver medals in art and Super Quiz.

· Joel Mathew was awarded the following medals in the Scholastic Division: a gold medal in math and bronze medals in art, music and science.

· Allan Marin was awarded the following medals in the Scholastic Division: a gold medal in interview, a silver medal in economics and bronze medal in speech.

· Andrew Bascas was awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: a gold medal in interview and bronze medals in essay and speech.

Mill Creek High School

· Amnah Hillou was awarded the following medal in the Honors Division: a gold medal in math.

· Barton Kennelly was awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: a gold medal in math and bronze medal in Super Quiz.

· Ryan Morgan was awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: a silver medal in math and a bronze medal in science.

Parkview High School

· Dominique Wang was awarded the following medal in the Honors Division: a silver medal in math.

· Claire Hon was awarded the following medals in the Honors Division: a gold medal in language and literature and a silver medal in math,

· Vaishnavi Nedunoori was awarded the following medal in the Scholastic Division: a bronze medal in economics.

· Craig Allen was awarded the following medals in the Varsity Division: a gold medal in essay and bronze medals in interview, language and literature and math.