Two students representing Divine Savior Academy recently won high honors 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 second meet, freshman Alicia Ali (pictured) was on of the 94 highest-scoring ninth graders in the entire country, while senior Amaya Stifano was one of the 251 highest-scoring twelfth graders. More than 60,000 high school students from 47 states entered the meet. The school???s participation was overseen by DSA high school English Chair, Ryan Kirchoff.
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 tests 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 a??Time Magazine??essay by James Poniewozik. Though 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. Like the questions on the verbal SAT I, 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 a writer???s style shapes and shades his 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 completing a Challenge, classes are encouraged to talk about the texts and the answers to the multiple-choice questions, and are also given additional topics for open-ended discussion and/or written response.
The texts for the second WordWritght meet this year were a pair of poems by Wilfred Owen for 9th and 10th graders and an excerpt from George Eliot???s??Daniel Deronda??for 11th and 12th graders. The students will participate in two 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.