Scrabble is a big deal in Dylan Ricke’s household. The Palmetto High School senior grew up playing the game.
“I’ve been playing Scrabble since I was in elementary school,” Ricke says. “It’s a family tradition. My dad likes to talk about the origins of words or their meanings. We’re all pretty enthusiastic about it.”
When Ricke moved on to high school, he became involved in starting the school’s Scrabble Club.
“I wasn’t the founder,” he says. “A bunch of freshmen were the ones who really formed the club. Alyssa Bernstein was the founder.”
But Ricke was club president in his sophomore and junior years. The club meets once a month where they play for an hourand- a-half to two hours.
“We play only one game and one round,” he says. “It’s a pretty loud, exciting event.” Last year, club members decided they wanted to get involved in some kind of community service.
“You can go only so far with Scrabble itself,” Ricke says. “Last year we initiated the National Spelling Bee at Mays Middle School.”
Not only did the club conduct the spelling bee, they helped the winner prepare for the Miami-Dade County Spelling Bee at Jungle Gardens.
“I met with him personally more than five times to go over words and their origins,” he says. “I knew his spelling improved from session to session.”
A positive side affect of the spelling lessons was improvement in the middle school student’s work in his English class.
“His English teacher commented that he was being more outspoken in class,” Ricke says.
This year the plan is to expand the spelling bee program to additional schools.
Ricke has worked with young students before. For two summers he has been a counselor-in-training at the Alexander Montessori School, working with preschool or elementary school children.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. “I like hanging out with little kids. They are actually real entertaining.”
While some folks find working with children frustrating, Ricke does not.
“Its fun being the older kid,” he says. “They will either group up on me and try to assault me or they’ll think what I have to say is real interesting or cool.”
Ricke is a member of the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society and this year he’s president of the Palmetto Integrity Network.
“It’s like an anti-cheating club,” he says. “I want to reinstate old programs we used to run. We used to go to elementary schools and have programs about not cheating.”
Those programs would likely take place after the winter break. Ricke’s love for words led to working on the school paper. This year he is the Palmetto Panther copy editor.
“I’ve always like to write,” he says. “In the seventh grade, I really liked my creative writing class at Palmetto Middle.”
Originally he wanted to be a creative writer, but over time he switched to journalism. This fall, Ricke is readying his college applications and sending them off. He’s interested in attending the University of Florida and New College in Sarasota.
“It’s the state honors college and it has a one-to-10 faculty-student ratio,” he says. “It’s smaller and more intimate. It’s more individual based and easier to fulfill your individual goals.”
Ricke is considering environmental science as a major, as well as journalism. He would like to work as a journalist for a National Geographic-type of magazine.