Saturday, January 7, 2012

They Don't Judge the Book by its Cover

Well the kids at Pottsgrove High School, overseen by Todd Kelly, are at it again.

Long experts at the national WordMasters Challenge held in October, two Pottsgrove students once again stood out this year.
Close reading paid off for Pottsgrove students

Sophomore Jeremy Cuandrado earned a perfect score on the challenge, one of only 25 tenth graders in the entire country to do so.

His teammate, Anthony Pond, made only one mistake. That put him among the 108 highest scoring tenth graders in the country.

Two freshmen, Brianna Costira and Allison Wentzel, both earned honorable mention honors.

This is no small feat when you consider that 54,000 students from 46 American states and four foreign countries entered the meet.

The premise behind the WordMasters Challenge is that attentive reading and sensitivity to language are among the most important skills students acquire in school.

The texts students must analyze for the challenge can range from short fiction by Eudora Welty or John Updike, to poetry as old as Shakespeare's as a recent as Margaret Atwood's.

The texts for this year's WordMasters meet were an essay by Robert Lipsyte for 9th and 10th graders and an excerpt from Arnold Bennett's "Old Wives Tales" for 11th and 12th graders.

Like the questions on the verbal SAT tests in English literature, and Advanced Placement language exams in both English language and English literature, "the questions posed by the WordMasters challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing, and to notice the ways in which a writer's style shapes and shades his meaning," a release from the contest explained.

All of which is to say that this challenge rewards students who understand that not everything is black and white, but that much of the world exists in shades of gray.

Proof of this is in the Pottsgrove students' results -- right there in black and white.

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