B-A fifth grader is a word wizard

If you see Bellwood-Antis fifth grader Troy McCrum wish him godspeed and prosperity for his trip to Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, PA, tomorrow.
Don’t worry – he’ll understand what you’re talking about.
Troy is the lone finalist from the Northern Blair County Region in the first annual Reader’s Digest Word Power Challenge, an education contest designed to filter out the best vocabulary students in the country.
“When I first looked at the words, I thought to myself that no one would advance,” said Kathy Young, a fifth-grade teacher at B-A and also the organizer of the program. “I was surprised that so many students knew and understand what some of these words were. I didn’t even know a few of them.”
What is gibberish? What does bamboozeled mean? How about Hullabaloo or Vernacular?
These were the types of questions more than a hundred students saw during the preliminary testing for the contest.
According to Young, the top two sections in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades each were administered the test. Forty questions were given, and included word association and definition recognition.
After the scores were calculated, the top six in each section were offered another 40-question quiz, only this time more challenging. According to Young, Reader’s Digest set the standard for “passing” during this round.
“It was a tough challenge, even for the eighth graders,” said Young, referencing the second quiz. “But Troy came out ahead. Now he’s moving on.”
The journey continues when Troy leaves for the state competition scheduled for tomorrow at Washington and Jefferson.
“We’re really excited for him,” said Young. “He’s a great student with straight As nearly across the board. He’s also well read and English is his strongest subject. I think this is going to give him the advantage he needs once he gets there.”
Young said the competition in Washington will be set-up a little differently than the pencil and paper tests taken at Bellwood-Antis. Competing will be the top 100 qualifiers in the state.
“There, it will be kind of like a Spelling Bee,” said Young. “The students, I believe, will be defining words after being dictated by a panel of judges.”
Should Troy advance again, he will travel, all expenses paid, to the national-level competition in March in Colonial Williamsport, Va. Reader’s Digest is offering a total of $50,000 in scholarships.
“I just hope he goes as far as I believe he can,” said Young.
Despite being the first year of the program, Young said she believes it can be a great educational tool for the students for years to come.
“The teachers here really enjoyed administering the program and the kids had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “I would like to do it again next year and maybe bring the fourth grade classes on board.”
Oh, and by the way, gibberish is a bunch of nonsense; bamboozeled is to deceive; hullaballo is much ado about something; and vernacular means everday language.