Elementary school students from more than 20 Philadelphia district schools participated in the annual ASAP (After School Activities Partnership) Scrabble Winter Classic Tournament Wednesday at school district headquarters.
Ten-year-old Kyseem Taylor from Richard R. Wright school said he participates because he’s smart. “I want to show the world I’m smart,” said Taylor. “I’m going to beat Johnny Scrabble.”
ASAP volunteers like John Green, aka “Johnny Scrabble” were on hand with Webster’s official Scrabble dictionaries to settle word disputes. Green is a former professional Scrabble player, and is wearing a hoodie with “Scrabble” written across the chest.
Green started playing the game while he was serving 24 years in a state penitentiary, although he says he’s loved words since he was in elementary school. His favorite word is quixotry: a wild, visionary idea.
As soon as he came home ten years ago, he entered himself in national Scrabble tournaments, and loved it. But for Green, nothing is better than seeing the faces of the kids as they learn. “This is better than food, better than parks, better than being anywhere in the world,” he said.
Rachel Gao, 12, from Fell Elementary agrees as she plays with her sister, Lexi, 11. Gao says she loves to learn new words and make friends, and that’s good for her future. She hopes one day to become a “space teacher.”