Scrabble player Caitlin Donnelly put a ``hex'' on the board. She followed it with ``hired'' and doubled her points.
Halfway through the game she was giving her competitors something to think about.
``I bought a deluxe board, so my mom and I play sometimes,'' the Deerfield Elementary fifth-grader said.
Caitlin is part of the school's Scrabble Club, started earlier this year by Deerfield secretary Sharon Brown and library media specialist Catherine Ebmeier.
The club is open to fifth- and sixth-grade students and meets twice a month. The club's first field trip was Thursday afternoon to Presbyterian Manor, where nine students challenged residents to a word duel.
``I enjoy playing Scrabble and thought it would be fun to do a community service and play with the senior citizens,'' Caitlin said. ``It's not very important to win because I just want to have fun.''
One of Caitlin's competitors was 80-year-old Mildred Clodfelter, an admitted Scrabble tenderfoot.
``This is the first time I've played in years,'' Clodfelter said. ``So far, I've had good letters. I've learned to watch for triples. I'm learning as I go along.''
Clodfelter didn't need to use the Scrabble dictionary to come up with ``have'', ``gained'' and ``ale,'' and she didn't mind helping out when someone else needed a little suggestion in creative spelling.
``A lot of this goes back to my own childhood when I played with my parents,'' Ebmeier said. ``It's a good lifelong leisure activity.''
Ebmeier said the students have improved dramatically since the first meeting last fall.
``A few of them had only played once or twice,'' she said. ``They're getting much better.''
Ebmeier and Brown plan to continue the club next year, and if all goes well, will bring the students back to Presbyterian Manor in the future.
``It makes them a better person,'' she said.
-- JL Watson's phone message number is 832-7145. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.