Notre Dame students illustrate words for college admission exam contest

April 21st, 2009 by Clint Cooper in Life Entertainment

Quick, how would you illustrate the word puerile?

How about "paradox" or "aversion" or "laud"?

Junior advanced placement English language and composition students at Notre Dame High School had to figure that out recently as part of a nationwide video contest challenging high school students to come up with fun ways to teach SAT vocabulary words.

The winning video, determined by voting on the site (, was to have been announced Monday.

"It was entertaining," AP English teacher Chuck Newell said of the project by, which drew around 800 entries. "I think they got a lot out of it. It was kids teaching kids."

He said Notre Dame submitted 12 videos, which were one to two minutes long. The idea, said co-founder Jack Yu, was "to teach an SAT word in a memorable way."

He said some of the entries were "pretty funky," several featuring aspects such as computer animation and graphics. Most were sort of "comedy-oriented," but a few even had a horror theme, he said.

"We kind of thought they were done at a very high level - in some very creative ways," said Mr. Yu. "That was one of best parts (of the contest)."

The students at Notre Dame selected from a list of commonly used SAT words posted at, then got class time to plan their video strategy.

"They had to figure it out for themselves," Mr. Newell said.

One group of students selected the word paradox and illustrated it with a video shot in and around Stone Cup Coffee House in North Chattanooga.

Junior John David Bruce said his group "threw around ideas" and decided on a "Twilight Zone" theme, in which a student leaves a coffee house and returns to retrieve his wallet, only to find the building locked and be told it had not been open for years.

He said the video took about 15 minutes to shoot. Fellow student Nathaniel Hendricks, who is "good with cameras," then edited it, he said.

"It was interesting," Mr. Bruce said.

Mr. Newell said the project was fun and allowed the students to compete for a small cash prize from but also might help in their own classroom.

"There is a lot of hard vocabulary on the (AP English) exam," he said. "This is getting them ready for (it)."

The national contest was sponsored by MIT University.


To see how Notre Dame students illustrated some of the words they chose for the SAT vocabulary contest, visit Then click on "videos" and search for the words aversion, laud, paradox and puerile. Some words may be illustrated by more than one school. There is not a way to search for the words by creator, according to co-founder Jack Yu.