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Philly Plays Scrabble month kicks off with champion vs. councilman

Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. plays a game of Scrabble against Liam Hart, a freshman at Science Leadership Academy and top Pennsylvania finalist in the 2013 National School Scrabble Championships. Credit: Charles Mostoller, Metro Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. plays a game of Scrabble against Liam Hart, a freshman at Science Leadership Academy and top Pennsylvania finalist in the 2013 National School Scrabble Championships. Credit: Charles Mostoller/Metro

Philadelphia Councilman Wilson Goode Jr. was a worthy opponent. But in the end, he got beat.

Liam Hart, a freshman at Science Leadership Academy, bested the city official by 47 points in a game of Scrabble. The two went head-to-head yesterday in the Philly Plays Scrabble campaign kickoff promoting Scrabble youth clubs in schools, libraries and recreation centers throughout the city.

City Council today is declaring this Philly Plays Scrabble Month and will present citations to After School Activities Partnership and its funders.

Some new formal and informal Scrabble tournaments will be held this year too.

“It’s to bring like-minded youth together to give them some new competition,” said Justin Ennis, ASAP executive director.

Hart this summer went to the National Scrabble Championship in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia students are really upping the competition this year, Ennis said.

“What we’re hoping to do,” he continued, “is cultivate a competitive program where the kids who really connect to Scrabble beyond leisure or fun can appreciate the competitive angle.”

The program is open to all grade levels and the elementary school students like it especially, Ennis said, because it helps them discover new words and get comfortable with addition.

“At the high school level,” Ennis said, “it’s definitely much more competitive. Really what they are looking for is a total dominance of their opponents. They are beginning to make that connection between SAT root words and using that to build them into the highest-scoring word possible.”

Last year, the ASAP club boasted about 1,200 Scrabble students among more than 80 clubs. With after-school activities getting cut in many city schools, Ennis is hoping the students hop onto the Scrabble train.

ASAP also leads after-school activities like chess, drama and debate clubs. PNC Bank is a major sponsor of the programming.

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