by Andrea Cole
Although Maia Marchetti is happy to finish fourth in the National Word Power competition, she already is looking forward to competing for first place in next year's contest.
On May 15, the Kimpton Middle School seventh-grader placed fourth in the Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge, a contest that challenges students across the nation on their understanding of words and how to use them correctly in a sentence. The contest was open to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders across the nation, and 52 students competed in the national competition.
Matthew Evans, a seventh-grader from Albuquerque, N.M., won the grand prize and a $25,000 college scholarship. Hannah Brown, a seventh-grader from Spartanburg, S.C., placed second and won a $15,000 college scholarship. Camille Guillot, an eighth-grader from Mandeville, La., won a $10,000 third-place college scholarship.
Marchetti said she was happy with the results, although she was "a little disappointed" she was not in the top three. However, Marchetti said, she enjoyed the experience.
"It was a lot of fun," she said. "The final round was filmed at Universal Studios, and we had a tour of the arctic exhibit at Sea World."
Marchetti's mom, Pennie, and her Word Power coach Joan Kubus traveled to Florida with her.
"We are so proud of her," said Pennie Marchetti. "The kids were all amazing. They were very relaxed. Monday night, I called [my husband Vincent] to tell him the good news."
Maia Marchetti moved on to the national competition at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., in March after beating out 99 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in Ohio to win the Ohio State Championship.
"[To prepare], I read vocabulary books and stayed after school to work with Mrs. Kubus," she said. "I also did some of the practice tests on the Reader's Digest Web site. I read a lot of books, too."
Kubus, a seventh-grade teacher at Kimpton, said she was not surprised Marchetti placed so high.
"You know your own student, but you don't know the competition," she said. "I knew she was great. I'm glad that she plans on continuing with the competition next year."
A television special based on the national event will be broadcast on NBC stations this summer, according to Lisa Quirindongo of Dentsu Communications. A date for the broadcast has yet to be announced.
Pennie Marchetti said her daughter now has bragging rights in the family. She beat out her older brother, Galen, in the statewide contest. Their brother, Linus, won the state competition in 2005 and placed 13th in the nation. Maia Marchetti also has a younger brother, Blaise.
"Everyone is happy for her, but in a jealous kind of way," Pennie Marchetti joked.