La Jolla High School's two teams have won the highest honors in year-end standings of this year's WordWright Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry.
Participating with 582 high school teams from all across the country,
the La Jolla's tenth graders tied for ninth place in the nation in the
cumulative standings at the end of the four meets held this year (after
finishing first in the nation in the year's final meet). At the same
time, the school's 11th-graders tied for 15th place in the nation (after
placing eighth in the final meet). The teams were supervised by Jewel
of the school's students won highest honors for year-long individual
achievements as well: Sophomore Nika Ostovari place among the six
highest-scoring 10th-graders in the entire country in the year-end
cumulative standings, while her teammates Chloe Elliott and Charlie Mann
both tied for eleventh place in the nation.
Students who excelled
in the year¹s final meet, held in April, included sophomores Lauren
Dorst, Chloe Elliott, Charlie Mann, Nika Ostovar, and Enzo Serafino, all
of whom earned perfect scores. Sophomores Alma Halgren, Rain Joslin,
Reed Vickerman, and Louise Xu, and juniors Marisa Liang, Tessa Lowe, and
Trevor Menders each made only one mistake.
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 Steinbeck to poetry as old as
Shakespeare's or as recent as Margaret Atwood's, and to essays as
classic at E.B. White's or as current as a Time Magazine opinion piece
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.
questions on the verbal SAT I, the SAT II in English Literature, and the
Advanced Placement exams in both English Language and English
Literature, the questions posed by the 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 the Challenge, classes are
encouraged to talk about the text 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 fourth
WordWright meet this year were a pair of essays by Stanley Fish and
Michael Winerip for ninth- and 10th-graders and a poem by Katha Pollitt for
11th- and 12th-graders. Now that all four of the year's meets have been
completed, medals and certificates will be presented to those who
achieved and/or improved the most in the course of the year.