Connect Four Competition Helps Students Connect the Dots, Leveling Academic and Athletic Playing Fields (via

 West Essex — Education Top Stories

Connect Four Competition Helps Students Connect the Dots, Leveling Academic and Athletic Playing Fields

Christine Corliss

Sunday, February 23, 2014 • 10:49pm

CALDWELL, NJ - eLunch is always a favorite time of day for students, but fifth-grade students at Wilson Elementary School in West Caldwell had a new reason for liking lunch this month as they competed in the school’s annual Connect Four Competition. For three weeks, fifth-graders at the school participated in the non-athletic, non-academic one-on-one competition, playing against peers and hoping to win the coveted Connect Four Champion title.

Created by principal Scott Keena, the competition is designed to resemble the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness. Intended to give all students a fair chance at winning a school contest, fifth-graders are randomly paired to compete against each other, playing for the best out of three. The winner of each round is then paired against the winner of a different round until the ultimate winner is crowned. To determine who goes first, the pairs play a quick round of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

“The Connect Four competition really gives all students a fair chance of winning,” said Keena. “It is voluntary, although usually everybody plays, and it is always fun to see which two students make it to the final round.” This year, 35 of the 40 fifth graders took part in the competition.

Keena creates a chart similar to that of March madness, writing in the names of each round’s winners. The semi-final rounds are a series of five games, and the final round is a series of seven games, with the winner needing to win four out of seven.

This year, Tyler Krisinski and Ethan Bishop competed on February 11 for the title of Connect Four champion. Initially, Krisinski led the competition three games to one, but Bishop came back to win two games, tying the competition at three games each. As their peers looked on, wishing them luck and rooting them on, Krisinski won the competition in seven rounds.

“The competition gives the fifth graders something special just for them, and gives the other students something to look forward to,” added Keena. “It is a great way to bring students from different classrooms, different activities, and different interests together.”

For more information on Wilson Elementary School, visit