A club where words count

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

COURTLAND—If Southampton Academy librarian Sally Dekarske had a passion for the board game Monopoly, the school might have a Monopoly club.

Instead, Dekarske’s hobby is Scrabble, the board game in which players place letters on checkerboard-looking layout to form words that earn points, based on the point value assigned to each letter used in the word.

For instance, the letters that form the word “Scrabble” would be worth 14 points. Accomplished players can place the “tiles” that display the letters on bonus squares increase the value of the letter or the value of the word.

Dekarske, a Michigan native, said she used to play the game with family members.

“I’ve always played Scrabble as a kid,” she said.

Even now, she plays with older family members as well as with her children. It’s a “multi-generational” game, she said. And her enjoyment for the game continued.

She started a club last year with just a handful of members. This year, the clubs for both the middle school and the high school have about 45 members who meet during their lunchtime on Fridays to play and hone their skills.

“We have some really good Scrabble players,” Dekarske said.

The club members competed the Literacy Partnership’s Second Annual Scrabble for Literacy tournament on Feb. 29 in Norfolk. Student teams from Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton and Newport News participated in the tournament held at Selden Arcade.

The student teams played three thirty-minute games and their total points for the three games were added together to determine the winning teams.

And the Raiders — the school’s nickname — did well. The Upper School, or high school level, entered five teams, while the lower, or middle, school had three teams competing. Two of the middle school teams won awards. A team of Maddie Dekarske (Susan’s daughter), Sam Gray and Trey McNeely took first place, while the team of Cody Barksdale, Carson Camp and Katelyn Widner finished second in their division.

It is the only Scrabble tournament in the area, Dekarske said, but she thinks there’s a way to add more. She said she’s looking into generating interest in other Virginia private schools to start clubs that might compete at some point.