think-achieve-2013-mad-vocab-12smallUTC Freshman Composition students, Whitwell Middle School (WMS) students, and community representatives enjoyed a celebration of language power with a Mad Vocab Art contest designed by Madonna Kemp.

Mad Vocab Art is a vocabulary art contest that allowed UTC students to address many of the issues writers face. Kemp, an adjunct professor who teaches English classes, developed the contest with funding by Think Achieve and sponsorship by Chattanooga Football Club.

ThinkAchieve seeks to “close the documented gaps at UTC between student and faculty perceptions of thinking skills in the classroom.” Kemp earned a small grant to fund the design, implementation, and assessment of Mad Vocab Art contest.

“While creating artistic representations of definitions, the UTC students had to engage in serious vocabulary investigation and employ personal ingenuity in order to convey meaning to a specific audience,” Kemp explained. “Additionally, Mad Vocab Art participants benefited from teaching and sharing elements, which resulted in both an increased knowledge retention rate and social interaction that encourages a sense of community.”

WMS students, who have excelled in language arts and met their reading goals, served as judges for the contest portion of the event. WMS is a Title I school serving a low-income rural area. For many of the children, Mad Vocab provided their first college experience. Teachers Jennifer Patton and Vicki Wells led thirty students through a tour of the UTC campus and to the event, where the children reportedly enjoyed their judiciary duties and chatting with other participants during the luncheon.

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Local business owners participated as judges and conversation leaders for their tables. Michael Brooks of LifeKraze, Fynn Glover of Roots Rated, Sheldon Grizzle of The Company Lab, and Marshall Brooks of Clumpies brought some company swag for the contestants and judges. And, since all the business owners are players or board members for Chattanooga Football Club, there was definitely some Chattanooga Football Club represented in the prize packs.

Awards were given to students based on number of votes received. The following took home prizes: Morgan Lorimer (1st place for “Essay”), Macon Rowan (2nd place for “Faith”), Nicole Masso (3rd place for “Emotion”), James Hardy (HM for “Chattanooga”), Dakota Bennett (HM for “Transition”), and Ja’Lisa Little (HM for “Asunder”). Nick Adams, Yasmin Murphy, Zirrshaddia Scott, and Kendall Dugger were finalists. Calvin Forrest and Gino Delaville served as greeters. And Dalton Greenwood and Donna Nguyen served as voting commissioners.

After the event most of the WMS students reported that they will more seriously consider going to college—some specifically mentioned UTC. The UTC students shared that the event forced them to expand their vocabularies and more carefully consider their audiences. And the Chattanooga representatives felt the event was a good way to build a sense of community that supports ingenuity and communication.

Michael Brooks of LifeKraze enjoyed “the diversity of the group that was brought together. When people from all ages, locations, and backgrounds come together, you can feel the importance of the event.”

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