Student ranks highest in national competition

Michael Snyder/Staff
Augusta Prep students Caroline Catchpole (front, from left), Maryclaire Regan, Yotong Dong, Adam Kronowski (back, from left), Allie Eisenberg, Deema Elchoufi, Mattie Sue Judd and Preston Hull competed in the National WordMasters Challenge.

Maryclaire Regan is modest about her achievements, but the Augusta student is the highest-ranked high school sophomore in a national academic competition.

She and her classmates at Augusta Preparatory Day School participated in the National WordMasters Challenge, an academic contest in which students answer questions after reading complex passages, scoring among the best in the country.

With 572 high schools competing, Maryclaire, 16, scored the highest of any sophomore on the series of four tests.

"I guess it's kind of exciting," she said.

The achievement sets the bar high for her last two years of high school, Maryclaire said.

She wasn't alone in performing well on the test. Sophomores Caroline Catchpole and Yutong Dong, both 16, placed seventh and 12th in the country, respectively.

The most recent test required freshmen and sophomores to read a short story by Ernest Hemingway and juniors and seniors to read an op ed piece from The New York Times.

Maryclaire, Yutong and Caroline managed perfect scores on that portion. Only 33 sophomores in the country scored that well.

Although they were modest about the feat, their teachers weren't.

"They are asked to analyze and interpret extremely difficult passages," said Richard Furze, the students' English teacher. "I never score as high on the test as they do regularly."

The contest differs from spelling bees. Students must read carefully, comprehend and interpret a passage of poetry or prose.

The "one common denominator" to their success is reading, Dr. Furze said.

Also from Augusta Prep, Deema Elchoufi placed 59th among freshmen, and freshman Allie Eisenberg, freshman Adam Kronowski, junior Preston Hull and senior Mattie Sue Judd each received an honorable mention.

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

NATIONALLY RANKED

First: Maryclaire Regan

Seventh: Caroline Catchpole

12th: Yutong Dong

59th: Deema Elchoufi

Source: Augusta Preparatory Day School