BananagramsChallengeTwelve students are heading to the Grand Final of the U.S. Bananagrams Challenge in Rhode Island on April 1. The group defeated 15,000 other fourth through sixth graders throughout New England to earn a place in the final and will now compete to be crowned America’s “Top Banana.”

The finalists will compete against each other in rounds of Bananagrams before the overall winner is presented with a specially designed trophy and $1,000 for his or her school by Rena Nathanson, inventor of the anagram game and CEO of Bananagrams Inc. The Final will take place at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket R.I. where all finalists will be presented with an exclusive Bananagrams goody bag.

The complete list of finalists is:

  • Kristen Gregory, 6th, Clark Lane MIddle School, Waterford, CT
  • Kaede Shimamura, 5th, Lyndon Town School, Lyndon, VT
  • Gabe Victoria, 5th, Scotland Elementary School, Scotland, CT
  • Victoria Hancock, 5th, Broad Rock Middle School, Wakefield, RI
  • Hunter Crawford, 5th, Hooksett Memorial School, Hooksett, NH
  • Kayla Serverius, 5th, Newington Public School, Newington, NH
  • Benjamin Barilaro, 5th, Blueberry Hill School, Longmeadow, MA
  • Fisher Luba, 6th, Lynnfield Middle School, Lynnfield, MA
  • Brandon Aikman, 5th, The Master’s School, West Simsbury, CT
  • Alex Grillo, 5th, Hebron Elementary School, Hebron, CT
  • Keely Cahoon, 6th, Butler Elementary, Avon, MA
  • Victoria Ciardiello, 6th, Baldwin Middle School, Guilford, CT

As part of its mission to get children playing with words, Bananagrams, Inc. created the challenge to help boost vocabulary and spelling skills in classrooms and after school programs. More than 10,000 students took part in the inaugural U.S. tournament last year.

This year’s free-to-enter Challenge was open to 750 schools and invited children in grades 4, 5 and 6 throughout New England to “Go Wild With Words” by playing a series of Bananagrams games with fellow students. Through a simple process of elimination, each school identified its champion, or “Best of the Bunch,” who then competed in a series of online word-based games—using grade-appropriate spelling lists—for one of 12 places at the Grand Finale.