NEW CUMBERLAND - In an age of standardized tests and increasingly high expectations for students, schools are doing more to make learning and preparing for those tests fun.
On Monday, hundreds of Hancock County parents gathered at the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center to celebrate the academic achievement of students who did well in the Acuity Bowl, a competition held four times a year to help students prepare for the WESTEST. The latest version of the standardized test, WESTEST 2, measures the academic progress of students from third grade to 11th grade.
Acuity Bowl winners - 86 in all - received certificates and congratulations from school board President Jerry Durante and Superintendent Suzan Smith during Monday's board meeting.
"This is a wonderful evening for us. We are very proud of our students," Smith said. "We have a group of extremely intelligent young people with us."
Winning students in the third and fourth grades were from Hancock County's five elementary schools: Allison, New Manchester, Broadview, Liberty and Weirton Heights. Winning students in grades 5 through 8 were from Oak Glen and Weir Middle schools.
Hancock County Schools held its first Acuity Bowl in April as a way to motivate students to do well on the WESTEST. The quiz bowl covers the subjects of reading/language and math. In the spring, all West Virginia students take WESTEST exams on reading/language arts, math, writing, science and social studies.
Another competition, known as the Knowledge Master Open, also recently tested Hancock County students' academic abilities. Students from Oak Glen Middle School and Weir Middle School competed on Dec. 5 against students from across the United States and in several other countries.
The Weir Middle School team, comprised of students from the middle school and St. Joseph the Worker School, placed first in West Virginia and 50th overall by scoring 1,461 out of 2,000 possible points. The Oak Glen Middle School team placed fourth in the state and 397th overall by scoring 1,009 points. A total of 508 middle schools competed.
Academic coach Melanie Donofe, gifted education teacher, said she was proud to see both teams do so well in the fall competition.
"I watched some excellent scholars," Donofe said. "The competition moves very quickly. These students read and answered questions in as little as two to seven seconds."
Students participate in the Knowledge Master Open on their classroom computers, allowing them to compete in a large academic event without the expense of traveling to a central site, Donofe said.
Students answer 200 questions from a variety of subjects - current events, law, psychology, math, science, social studies, literature - and are scored based on the accuracy and speed of their answers. Results are tabulated into overall, state and enrollment-size rankings by Academic Hallmarks, a Colorado software publisher.
"Questions can be extremely difficult," Donofe said. "The scores show that both teams have some very remarkable students and they are learning at a very high level. It is a credit to their classroom teachers that they are applying what is learned in the classroom to random questions in a competition like this."
Another Knowledge Master Open competition will be held in the spring.
Winners of the fall 2012-2013 Acuity Bowl are as follows:
Allison Elementary School: Third grade Sophia Arner (reading/language) and Cristian Fighiroae (math); Fourth grade Schae Cline (reading/language) and Shawna Andelmo-Luke (math).
Broadview Elementary School: Third grade Eleciana Patton (reading/language) and Noah Wineberg (math); Fourth grade Jacob Joseph (reading/language) and Samantha Antol (math).
Liberty Elementary School: Third grade Andrew Frank (reading/language) and Michael Truxall (math); Fourth grade Haley Popish (reading/language) and Mathew Grier (math).
Weirton Heights Elementary School: Third grade Ryan Dunmeyer (reading/language) and Avery Witschey (math); Fourth grade Elizabeth Mullen (reading/language) and Ethan Cummins (math).
New Manchester Elementary School: Third grade Martina Fish (reading/language) and Makayla Zoellers (math); Fourth grade Jacob Clark (reading/language) and Sydney Martinez (math).
Oak Glen Middle School: Fifth grade Dakota Holbrook, Marlee Richmond, Desiree Conner, Austin Bosworth, Melissa Cameron and Karis Six (reading/language); Elizabeth Hartley, Dakota Holbrook, Lucas Harris, Allyson Brothers, Taylor Allison, McKayla Goodlin (math); Sixth grade Tia Rhodes, Hannah Walker, Madison Barnhart, Jake Collins, Zaeda Westlake and Abby Hazenstab (reading/language); Wyatt Wiley, Eileen Flowers, Jacob Collins, Nick Jones, Nick Franczek and Austin Alexander (math); Seventh grade Shawnee Mike, Faith McDevitt, Christinia Hinerman, Hunter Gorby, Sierra Megee and Lizzie Orenzuk (reading/language); Sierra Megee, Stephen Goydich, Josh Lantz, Katana Grubbs, Makayla Martin and Hunter Gorby (math); Eighth grade Isaiah Ware, Emma Hisrich, Taylor McKay, Justin Gumm, Katie Szymanski and Kimberly Smith (reading/language); Andrew Tinsky, Sydney Pritchard, Chris Gray, Morgan Harris, Taylor Edgell and Jasmine Beaumont (math).
Weir Middle School: Fifth grade Spencer Vida, Nick D'Amico and Maggie Rudigier (reading/language); Boston Beatty, Joey Cowher and Marlei Duvall (math); Sixth grade Savannah Ward and Allina Varner (reading/language); Anna Glasure and Karissa Gautier (math); Seventh grade Brendon Zevious and Natalie Cramer (reading/language); Taylor Fuchs and Kayley Bittinger (math); Eighth grade Becca Ball, Samantha Yates, Georgia Beatty and Anita Village (reading/language); Victoria Perito and Adam Cowden (math).
(Huba can be contacted at email@example.com)