In the 2015-16 Vocabulary Bowl, middle-school students proved to be just as fierce competitors as their high-school counterparts. So, for the first time, we honored a winner in the Bowl's middle-school division.

Lanier Middle School claimed the trophy this year with more than 230,000 words mastered, coming in second overall to their fellow Houston school, Chavez High School. As Chavez did earlier this week, the Purple Pups of Lanier celebrated their achievement with an exhilarating event at the school.

With assistant principal Angel Wilson emceeing the festivities, the Lanier gymnasium was packed with excited students, not to mention their proud parents and teachers.

The 50 top students at Lanier Middle pose with their medals and the Vocabulary Bowl trophy.
Houston's own Tamar Davis, a singer who once served as muse to Prince and more recently competed on NBC's "The Voice," followed up her Chavez appearance with an electrifying performance that ended in a standing ovation. Davis also spoke to the students about how her middle-school years shaped her.
Singer Tamar Davis entertains the crowd of students, teachers, and parents.

Along with the trophy for winning the Bowl's middle-school division and medals for the top-performing students, Lanier also received a special certificate from Mayor Sylvester Turner's office commending them for their achievement of 230,034 words mastered.

Lanier led a pack of impressive middle schoolers in this year's Bowl. Other top finishers included three schools from Chesterfield County in Virginia: Midlothian Middle (206,685 words mastered, 2nd place), Tomahawk Creek Middle (146,369 words mastered, 3rd place), and Elizabeth Davis Middle (113,988 words mastered, 4th place).

In last year's Bowl, Midlothian Middle finished in second place overall and was the top middle school. Landing in the top three two years in a row is certainly an impressive feat for any school. As Principal Patrick Stanfield told us at their celebration last year, "The entire school got behind the vocabulary effort, and we are very proud of our students' achievement."

Midlothian Middle's success in the Bowl has served as an inspiration for other Chesterfield County schools. As Tomahawk English teacher Jodi Bullano told us, "We are looking forward to participating and competing in the Vocabulary Bowl next year! provides an effective program to enhance our vocabulary lists and build vocabulary skills for our students."

Rounding out the top five middle schools was Florida's Margate Middle (111,706 words mastered, 5th place). As you can read in Margate's Success Story, the students' excellent work in the Bowl, placing them at the top of the state leaderboard, has generated some local media attention.

Finishing right behind Margate was Maryland's Buck Lodge Middle (102,798 words mastered, 6th place). We've featured Buck Lodge in a Success Story as well, showcasing their dramatic improvement in literacy scores that has served as a model for other schools in Prince George's County.

Congratulations to the Purple Pups of Lanier and all of our top middle-school finishers for a job well done! Who will be the winning middle school in the 2016-2017 Vocabulary Bowl? Only time will tell!