"You have the seeds of greatness within you."
That message — delivered to a gym full of 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders by their proud mayor, Mr. Anthony Caggiano — perfectly expressed the prevailing sentiment at today's Vocabulary Bowl Champions celebration at Margate Middle School: With this victory, these students have shown the world that they are capable of achieving whatever they set their minds to.
When the 2018-19 Vocabulary Bowl kicked off last fall, Margate's Spartans had the psychological advantage of coming into the season as back-to-back defending champs. But every school starts off on equal footing on October 1st, and the level of competition that Margate would face this year was stiffer than ever. The pressure was on, but Margate's students and teachers dug deep, gave it everything they had, and rose to the challenge. As school board member Nora Rupert put it, "Winning once is incredible. Winning two times is really, really amazing. But winning three times — with a bullseye on your back as the school to beat — well, that is crazy, crazy, crazy wonderful!"
After seven months of fierce determination and effort, Margate's students mastered 316,142 words to become the top middle school in North America, the third-ranked school overall, the only middle school to crack the 300-thousand threshold, and the first school to ever win the Middle and Elementary Schools Division three times. To put those numbers in context, consider these stats for the 2018-19 season: 1,378,387 students from 39,702 schools participated in the Vocabulary Bowl. Together, they mastered a collective total of 35,513,120 words.
Today, Margate's accomplishments were celebrated at an awards pep rally in their gym. At the culminating event, Vocabulary.com CEO Michael Freedman presented Principal Earnest Toliver and several MMS teachers with the Florida State Champions Banner, the Vocabulary Bowl Middle School Champions banner, and the Vocabulary Bowl Champions cup.
Margate's legacy was also honored with the presentation of the new Vocabulary Bowl Mastery Cup. The Mastery Cup was introduced this year to commemorate the lasting contribution of all Vocabulary Bowl champions, and is currently on tour during awards season. Each year, the names of the top high school and middle school will be carved on the tiers of the trophy before it travels around the country to honor those who've won, and to inspire those up-and-coming schools that aspire to make their own mark in the future. The name "Margate Middle School" is now etched on the silver cup three times, and forever etched in Bowl history.
Today's pep rally was energized by the school band, the cheer squad, student performances, and a stirring rendition of the national anthem sung by one of Margate's multi-talented science teachers. Principal Toliver gave special recognition to many of the teachers who've implemented Vocabulary.com in their classrooms, and Mr. Toliver himself was recognized when Vocabulary.com retired the number "3" (for three-peat) in honor of his leadership.
Several special guests also contributed to the event. Mayor Anthony Caggiano and Commissioner Arlene Schwartz presented the school with an official commendation from the City of Margate. Broward County Public Schools, which is the nation's sixth largest school district, was represented by Dr. Daryl Diamond, Director of Innovative Learning; LoriAyn Stickler, Project Manager of Technology and Instruction; Sharlene Kellier, Instructional Technology Facilitator; and Sarah Myhre, Instructional Technology Facilitator. These special guests joined in the presentation of achievement medals and certificates to the Top 100 students.
The Vocabulary.com team would like to thank Margate Middle School and Broward County Public Schools for another wonderful season and another wonderful celebration. Congratulations to all the students and educators who were behind this remarkable accomplishment.
All students attending K-12 schools in the United States and Canada are eligible to participate in the Vocabulary Bowl. The official season runs every year from October 1 through April 30, and we award a champions banner to the top overall school each month of the year. Learn how to get your school involved in the Vocabulary Bowl.
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