After a monthlong investigation, United States Academic Decathlon officials declared the winning team from Texas ineligible because their school’s enrollment was too large.
Alice High School in Texas had edged Hallmark – which has an enrollment of 220 – by 122 points. Alice’s score was 32,329, and Hallmark’s was 32,207.
Hallmark joins University High School of Fresno as a national champion. University High, which is on the Fresno State campus and chartered through Fresno Unified School District, has won the small schools competition five years in a row.
This year’s decathlon tested students’ knowledge in art, economics, essay, interview, language and literature, math, music, science, social science and speech.
Just a few years ago, Hallmark was low-ranked among Sanger Unified School District schools and similar schools in the state, so a national championship in a rigorous academic competition would have seemed improbable, said Alfred Sanchez, Hallmark’s principal.
“We were a ’1′ on the similar schools (Academic Performance Index) ranking, which is the worst you can be,” he said. “And here we are now with a national championship in the academic decathlon.”