Originally created 12/09/06

Two students ace national challenge



When Augusta Preparatory Day School sophomores Caroline Catchpole and Maryclaire Regan read this story, they likely will be able to answer any inquiry anyone could pose about it.

The 15-year-olds recently posted perfect scores in the WordMasters Challenge, a national competition for high school students requiring them to read and analyze various passages of prose or poetry.

The test was administered in their English class in October, but the girls only recently found out that they were two of 10 sophomores across the country to answer correctly all 11 questions on the exam.

"We graded it in class right after we took it and I knew I had gotten a perfect score, but I didn't really realize what that meant," Caroline said. "I thought it was just another quiz."

Augusta Prep English Department Chairman Gerry Chambers said none of the students prepared for the challenge other than by studying vocabulary words used in the passages and questions.

"It's vocabulary, but you're also looking at the grammar, structure and story style," Maryclaire said. "There's also comprehension, like what does this passage mean?"

Both girls said they believe they performed well on the challenge because of their rigorous English courses and a strong appetite for reading.

"My mom has trouble getting me to do my chores because I'm upstairs in my room with a book," Caroline said.

The girls' perfect scores, along with classmates Yutong Dong's and Leah Williams' honorable mentions, helped rank Augusta Prep 12th among 141 other schools competing in the challenge on the sophomore level.

Across all grade levels, about 55,000 high school students took part in the contest. No other Augusta-area school attained a national ranking in the first round of testing, Dr. Chambers said.

Other Augusta Prep students who performed well include Paige Guthrie, who placed 43rd among senior test takers, and Josh Segura, who had the 154th highest score for 11th-graders.

Augusta Prep students took part in the second of four rounds of testing Thursday. At the end of the year, the highest-performing students, based on their cumulative score for all four tests, win a medal, Dr. Chambers said.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.