CC students receive highest honors in WordWright Challenge

Cole Nogawa '22 and Ryan Jansen '22 received highest honors in the WordWright Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry. 

Below is a copy of the full press release from WordWright:

Two students representing Detroit Catholic Central High School recently won highest honors in the year-end cumulative standings of the WordWright Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring close reading and analysis of many different kinds of prose and poetry. 

Competing in the Blue Division contest for ninth and tenth graders, sophomore Cole Nogawa was one of the nine highest-ranked tenth graders in the entire country in the cumulative standings after the first three of the year's four meets. At the same time, his classmate Ryan Jansen was one of the 20 highest-ranked tenth graders nationwide. (Though the Challenge comprises four meets annually, this year's standings were computed on the basis of only the first three, because the closing of so many schools during the last months of the school year made teacher-supervised administration of the final meet too difficult.) More than 70,000 students from all across the country entered the Challenge. The school's participation was overseen by Kevin Griffin. 

Though not winning year-long honors, several of the school's students distinguished themselves in the year's final meet, held in April. These included freshmen Dominic Aiello (who earned a perfect score), Henry Benjamin, David Green, and Joey Watson; sophomores Ryan Jansen and Owen Kummer; juniors Jack Leuker and Nick Zappia; and senior Mark Holowicki. 

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 sh01t 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 New York Times 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. Like the 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 WordWright Challenge ask students both to recognize the emotional and/or rational logic ofa 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. 

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“Teach Me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge” is the motto of the Basilian Fathers and the sacred mission of Catholic Central High School. For ninety years, the graduates of Catholic Central have made a positive impact locally, nationally, and around the world.