The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Michelle Bigelbach
The Courier 

Small-But-Mighty Opheim Ranked Third In State For Vocab


February 12, 2020

Opheim students are just a small fraction of the 40,000 students in North America currently competing in’s annual Vocabulary Bowl, which runs through April 30. The goal of the competition is to master more words than the competitors, comprised of other participating schools. At the beginning of January, the Vikings were recognized by for being ranked third in the state out of 24 competitors and ranked second in the Montana Division III for high schools.

“As of Jan. 28, we have mastered 4,678 words. Lincoln County High School was number one with 264 enrolled participants and they have over 22,000 words mastered,” said Opheim’s English teacher Nikki Taylor.

Hearing their placement wasn’t as much of a shock as it was to hear they were recognized with other outstanding schools that have larger enrollment.

“We follow our ranking so we knew where we were in the top three. Many of the students said they felt surprised to hear about themselves on the website. I thought it was awesome that the people noticed how well we were doing based on the numbers we have enrolled. It just goes to show that the Opheim Vikings are small in number, yet mighty in spirit,” exclaimed Taylor.

This isn’t the first time Opheim has participated in the Vocabulary Bowl as two years ago they first participated and received fifth place overall. is an interactive thesaurus and dictionary developed by Thinkmap, a software company that utilizes visualization to facilitate communication, learning and discovery. The website teaches a word to students by giving a variety of questions and activities for each meaning and nuance of the word. Anyone can learn vocabulary by utilizing the program.

“Several of our teachers use it. I use it as a five-minute warm-up while taking the role in my English class to reinforce vocabulary that we are either testing on or reading about at the time,” explained Taylor.

Cathy Bailey, who teaches fifth and sixth-grade combined, utilizes the program by typing new words from stories into the system and assigns them to each class. “We do 20 minutes of vocabulary study each day using our Chromebooks. I can check the progress of each student on the words from my computer. If a student masters all the vocab words assigned, they can play on, where they are introduced to new words that we are not studying in class,” explained Bailey.

Both teachers have seen improvements in their students since utilizing the program in their classrooms, and students have also enjoyed learning new words and competing in the various competitions put on by the website.

“I have noticed a dramatic increase in vocabulary grades since implementing this program,” said Bailey. In addition to the Vocabulary Bowl and day-to-day learning, junior high and high school students also have the ability to participate in vocabulary jams, where students are put on teams and have to quickly respond to words and definitions. “My students enjoy the challenge of competing with the older students and sometimes even ben victorious,” stated Bailey.

“I enjoy how it is an easy platform to learn multiple words really quickly and you can remember by the repetitiveness of the words. My favorite word was nefarious,” said Opheim student Jeffrey Delisle.

“The learning program is fun like a gam. When learning new words, you get excited once you’ve mastered a word because you gain so many points,” explained high school student Mandy Fuhrmann.

Regardless of how Opheim finishes in the Vocabulary Bowl at the end of April, those participaring in the program and the bowl will have life-long knowledge they can carry with them the rest of their life. As an additional bonus, Taylor will also be giving out gift cards for Opheim’s highest-ranking participants.

As of January, Opheim’s top 10 word masters included Delisle with 7,290 words mastered, Charlie Kaasa with 6,716 words masterd, Latia O’Guin with 2,990 words mastered, Kaiden Morrow with 2,898 words mastered, Zach Fauth with 2,850 words mastered, Cole Taylor with 2,582 words mastered, Mandy Fuhrmann with 2,212 words mastered, Camden Kingw with 1,954 words mastered, Bo Anderson with 1,806 words mastered and Carrie Taylor with 1,613 words mastered. Those totals have only increased as the days and weeks have gone on and these students, as well as other students participating in the program, can’t wait to see how many more words they can learn and master before the end of the bowl competition and school year.


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