Berkmar High School
|Berkmar High School|
|History||Berkmar first won state in 2003 (and won 5 more until 2008 and 2013)|
|Team Colors||Blue, Red, White|
|Principal||Dr. Michael Zinn (2012-Present)|
|Head Coach||Christopher Pae|
|Associate/Other Head Coach(es)||Brian Bernhardt|
|State Championships||7, (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2013)|
|Regional/County Championships||7, (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010)|
|Region/County Location||Gwinnett County|
|Highest Finish||19th (twice) in National Finals (2004, 2008)|
Berkmar High School is a high school located in Lilburn, Georgia. It is particularly notable not just for their Academic Decathlon program, but the fact that it is the second most diversified school in Georgia. Berkmar is a Title I school and has demographics of 40% Black, 40% Hispanic, 10% White and 10% Asian.
Berkmar High School's Academic Decathlon program began in the 1996-1997 school year. In only his third year of teaching, IV Bray stepped up to the plate to coach the team.
The Early Years
While Cedar Shoals from Athens, GA dominated the state decathlon scene during the 90s, Berkmar struggled to qualify for the state competition. Though the team performed well enough to place in the top five at state for years, they were unable to beat rival Parkview High School to represent Gwinnett County in the next round of testing. The team, noticing this fact, brought the situation up with the PAGE foundation, which in turn created three "wild card" slots for state (currently, there are four "wild card" slots for state). These slots were reserved for the highest scoring schools which did not win their county/regional competition.
In the 1998-1999 school year, the Berkmar Academic Decathlon team attended its first state competition alongside rival Parkview High School. Though Parkview had gotten a higher team score regionals, Berkmar received one of the wildcard spots for the competition. During the awards banquet, it was revealed that Berkmar placed 5th overall. In 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, Berkmar placed 4th overrall at state, and in 2001-2002 placed 3rd.
In 2002-2003, Berkmar beat Parkview for the first time at the regional level. At that same competition, Berkmar won its first state championship title.
The Recent Years
Berkmar has won state each year since the first win in 2003. As competition has grown in both Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia, team member selection has become more competitive, and scores have been on the rise. In the 2007-2008 school year, the team had four returning members on the team (2H, 2V) contribute while the 2008-2009 team, had one returning member (a H who became a V).
IV Bray coached the Berkmar decathlon team since its creation. In the past few years, he had been teaching AP Physics B classes; he also has coached the school's golf team and the 9th grade baseball team. After ten years of coaching Academic Decathlon and thirteen of teaching, Bray left Berkmar to become an assistant principal at the GIVE center in Gwinnett (and is now an assistant principal at Parkview HS).
Christopher Pae has since taken over. Only in his fourth year of teaching, he understands Academic Decathlon very well; Berkmar is Pae's alma mater, and Pae competed on the Academic Decathlon team during his junior & senior years. Pae teaches CP World History and was also the coach for the school's Cross Country team.
Brian Bernhardt assists Pae. He is the head coach of the quizbowl team and teaches AP US History. He jumped right in to help coach AcaDec in his first year and is currently in his third year teaching.
In the 2007-2008 school year, the Berkmar AD team scored a school record of 43,720 at the state competition and broke 40,000 for the first time at nationals. Berkmar received the gold in the Honors (Liana Nisimova) and Varsity (Mai Himedan) categories at the state competition that year.
In the 2006-2007 school year, Berkmar broke 40,000 for the first time at the state competition. In that same year, Berkmar received the overall Gold for the Honors (Liana Nisimova), Scholastic (Katie Harazin), and Varsity (Chris Parsons) categories at state competition.
At the 2004 GA state competition, Berkmar swept the competition by receiving overall Gold, Silver and Bronze in the Honors, Scholastic, and Varsity categories.
At the 2007 nationals in Hawaii, Dua Hassan (S) presented her speech at the Speech Showcase. She along with Andrew Bascas (V) received bronze medals for speech. At the same competition, Katie Harazin (S) received a bronze medal in music. Until then, Berkmar had not won any medals at nationals since 2003 when Patrick Bailey (S) received a bronze in math.
USAD Logo Contest
In 2006, USAD announced its first national logo contest. Students across the country were invited to submit a logo which would appear on t-shirts at the national competition in Honolulu, Hawaii. Katie Harazin (S) submitted a logo and won, and USAD gave her $100 in scholarship money (but, to her dismay, did NOT give her one of the sea green polos featuring the logo for USAD staff). The logo shows a jolly pineapple playing a ukulele in front of a postcard featuring a Hawaiian sunset.