Lakota school places high in national vocabulary contest

WEST CHESTER TWP. —There is a word for what some students at Lakota’s Union Elementary did recently, and that word is “win.”

A third-grade team and three individual students are celebrating big results in the recent WordMasters Challenge — a national vocabulary competition involving nearly 125,000 students annually.

The Union team, representing the homerooms of teachers Sarah Ebright and Greg Clark, scored an impressive 185 points out of a possible 200, earning them a national second-place finish in the final of three meets this year, said Lakota school officials.

Competing in the difficult Blue Division of the WordMasters Challenge, third-graders Benjamin Feighery and Georgia Grissom, along with sixth-grader Fiona Barrett, achieved a perfect score of 20 on the challenge.

Nationally, only 20 third graders and 56 sixth graders achieved this feat, said Lakota officials.

“We are thrilled to see our students have such great success in the Wordmasters Challenge,” said Union Principal Kara Kowalk. “They work very hard to prepare for the test, and to earn three perfect scores and a second-place national finish is outstanding.”

According to contest officials, the WordMasters Challenge is an exercise in critical thinking that first encourages students to become familiar with a set of interesting, and considerably harder than grade-level, new words and then challenges them to use those words to complete analogies expressing various kinds of logical relationships. Working to solve the analogies helps students learn to think both analytically and metaphorically.

Kelly Law, a sixth-grade teacher at the school, said the competition comes with plenty of learning opportunities and allows participants to add to their vocabulary.

“The students have increased their vocabulary, which of course strengthens reading skills,” said Law. “Students also develop critical thinking skills as they are looking for patterns within the analogies.”

And, she added, the students continue to add to their work ethic, which takes a lot of effort and time.

Sarah Ebright, one of the Union teachers who helped the participating students prepare for the competition, said the efforts were worth it.

“I love that my students utilized their competitive spirit and their love for learning to help them be successful in the contest,” said Ebright. “They’ve learned that vocabulary can be fun.”

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