Monday, December 21, 2015
Word is, Pottsgrove High School Students Achieving
Blogger's Note: The following was provided by the Pottsgrove School District.
Several students representing Pottsgrove High School recently in this year's WordWright Challenge, a competition for American high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.
In the year's first meet, hold in October, sophomore Maxwell Hazel was one of the 60 highest-scoring tenth graders and senior Janine Faust one of the 38 highest scoring twelfth graders in the entire country.
Others at the school who excelled included sophomore Charles Walsh and seniors Erika Lessing and Avery Sicher.
More than 63,000 high school students from 48 states entered the meet. Pottsgrove's participation was overseen by Todd Kelly.
The premise behind the WordWright 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 or as recent as Margaret Atwood's, and to essays as classic as E. B. White's, or as current as James Parker's cultural commentary in The Atlantic magazine.
Thought the texts vary widely in voice, subject, tone and length, they have one thing in common: style. All use language skillfully to convey layers and shades of meaning not always apparent to students on a first or casual reading.
The questions posed by the WordWright Challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic of a piece of writing and to notice the ways in which the writer's style shapes and shades meaning.
Because the WordWright Challenge is a classroom activity and not a college-entrance exam, however, it can be a learning experience, not just a high hurdle. After competing a challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the texts and the answers to the multiple-choice questions.
The texts for the WordWright meet this year were an essay by George Orwell for ninth and tenth graders and a short story by John Updike for eleventh and twelfth graders.
The students will participate in three more meets over the coming months and medals and certificates will be awarded in June to those who achieve, and/or improve the most in the course of the year.