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B-A fifth grader earns top 100 spot in state Word Power Challenge

Troy McCrum knows his vocabulary.
The Bellwood-Antis fifth grader was recognized by the school district’s board of directors recently as being one of the top 100 finishers in the first ever 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 though to myself that no one would advance,” said Kathy Young, a fifth grade teacher at B-A and also the organizer of the program at the school. “I was surprised that so many students knew and understood what some of these words were. I didn’t even know a few of them.”
What is gibberish? What does bamboozled 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.”
The journey continued for McCrum in late January when he traveled to Washington and Jefferson College to compete at the state level.
There, the contest was set up more like a Spelling Bee. Young said there were 100 students in grades five through eight competing at the state level and just ten earned a spot in the finals. Unfortunately, McCrum wasn’t one of them.
“He did a really good job,” said Young. “He’s a smart student and was very happy just to make it that far.”
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.”
Also, two middle school competitive reading teams were recognized at the meeting.
The “Blue Team,” made up of John Wolfe, Andrea Isola, Jenna Nevling, Jonathan Thompson, Nathaniel Gray, Lauren Seidel, Matthew Flaugh, Beth Wheeler, Corey Miller, Emily O’Shea. Chelsea Thompson and Jessica Garber, took first place in the spring and fall competitions held at Roosevelt School in Altoona.
The “Gold Team,” made up of Cooper Campbell, Alyssa Davis, Mackenzie Sternberg, Trey Campbell, Lindsy McElhinney, Grant Martin, Troy McCrum, Allison Derr, Emily Crook, Grant DeArmitt, Lindsee Clark and Jessica Maynor, took first place honors in the spring and second place honors in the fall competition.
The contest involved students reading a variety of books and answering reading comprehension questions.
“The fall contest was the first time we ever took two first place finishes,” said Young, who along with Kathy Burch, coaches the student teams.
Oh, and by the way, gibberish is a bunch of nonsense; bamboozled is to deceive; hullabaloo is much ado about something; and vernacular means everyday language.