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Union Elementary Celebrates National Placement, Perfect Scores

Union Elementary Celebrates National Placement, Perfect Scores

Union Elementary School’s third-grade team and three individual students are celebrating big results in the recent WordMasters Challenge™ meet - 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.
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. The students were coached in preparation for the WordMasters Challenge by Ebright, sixth-grade Teacher Kelly Law and Gifted Intervention Specialist Debbie Roberts

"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!"

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. Although most vocabulary enrichment and analogy-solving programs are designed for use by high school students, WordMasters Challenge materials have been specifically created for younger students in grades three through eight. They are particularly well-suited for children who are motivated by the challenge of learning new words and enjoy the logical puzzles posed by analogies.

“(The students have) increased (their) vocabulary, which of course strengthens reading skills,” explained Law. “Students also develop critical thinking skills as they are looking for patterns within the analogies. Also, students continue to add to their work ethic – this takes a lot of effort and time.” Effort and time that their teachers support and encourage through activities designed to help the students prepare for the test.

While all three of Union’s perfect score students agreed that this third round of the competition was the easiest, having built on the prior two rounds this year, they also put in the work to prepare. “A lot of the words I recognized this round,” said Fiona, who enjoyed creating her own quiz sets to test herself.

In third grade, Benjamin and Georgia both agreed that keeping a paper journal with words and definitions helped them learn. Benjamin even credits the journal for increasing his score this year. Georgia also appreciated combining the journal with a conversation about the vocabulary words. “We had someone (either the teacher or another student) teach the word every day and then (we) wrote it in the paper journal,” she explained.

All three students also enjoyed the fun activities their teachers included to help prepare for the test. 

Benjamin, Georgia and Fiona were all surprised, and understandably excited, when they realized they earned a perfect score. “My eyes almost popped out!” shared Benjamin, whose goal when preparing was “to get better than I did the last time.”

Georgia stared at the screen, not believing that 20 out of 20 was her real score. Fiona experienced shocked excitement. “I was just sitting at my table smiling,” she said.

“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!”