Scrabble dictionaries and rule-books were close at hand, but the 28 Stevens Creek Elementary School pupils who recently squared off with the popular board game concentrated more on having fun.
Nearly 50 pupils have signed up for a Scrabble club the school started in November for fourth- and fifth-graders.
The group meets each Monday after school in the media center.
"We were just shocked at the level of play, and it's a nice way to bring up those who are struggling a little bit," said fourth-grade teacher Leah McKechnie, the club's sponsor.
The children filled the tables in the media center, and those who could not find space at a table took their boards to the floor.
"Competition has gotten a bad rap in the past few years, but we believe in competition," McKechnie said. "I think it's a safe way to become involved in competition."
McKechnie said she would like to send a team to the National School Scrabble Championship next year.
In the meantime, McKechnie hopes to start an area rivalry.
"One of our goals is to encourage other schools," she said. "We would love to have an intra-county Scrabble championship."
She said the development of social skills, such as taking turns and supporting one another, has been welcomed by-products of the club.
Leighton England-Doolittle, 9, was at the club for the second time, but he said he has played Scrabble at home.
"I think it's very fun, and the game is kind of a challenge," he said.
His playing partner Gmoe Alley, 9, is a charter member of the club.
He said his grandfather bought him a Scrabble game because he only had played Junior Scrabble before.
Gmoe, who said he has gotten "pretty good" at the game, enjoyed more than the competitive aspects.
"You get to see friends that you don't usually see that are in different classes," he said.
Nereida Fletcher, 10, said she has been going to the club for a while.
"You get to learn new stuff. You can spell a lot of words that you never knew," she said.
"It's kind of a challenge, especially when you're good at it."
Her partner, Andrew Savoie, 9, said he has been playing Scrabble for about six months.
"Many people really can't beat me, because I beat my mom," he said.
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