Finalists Revealed for the 2017 U.S. BANANAGRAMS® School Challenge

12 students are headed to the live Grand Final of the U.S. BANANAGRAMS® Challenge in Rhode Island, home state to Bananagrams, Inc., on April 1.  The 12 defeated 15,000 other 4th-6th 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., who’ll also take part in a live Q&A session with the kids. The Final will take place at the Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket Rhode Island where all finalists will be presented with an exclusive BANANAGRAMS goody bag.

“We can’t wait to see the 12 finalists go head-to-head in person next month!” said Nathanson. “The online portion of this year’s Challenge was intense, and the finals should be just as thrilling.  We wish all the students good luck!”

The complete lists 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.

Each school registered received a FREE BANANAGRAMS Challenge Welcome Pack worth more than $50 – which provided everything the teachers need to run their schools’ Challenge, including two BANANAGRAMS games.

Visit for further information about The BANANAGRAMS Challenge. Schools interested in taking part in the 2018 Challenge can also now register via the website.

"We all love Bananagrams – such a fun game for all ages!"
— Cindy Crawford
"Playing Bananagrams with friends! I love this game! I was just named Bananagrams Ninja! Be afraid, I’m amazing!"
— Kelly Clarkson
"(I'm a) self-proclaimed Bananagrams champion..."
— Andrew Luck | Indianapolis Colt's Quarterback
“Why it's fun: Manages to be speedy, challenging and super-simple at the same time.”
— AARP Magazine on Zip-It
“Can you spell P-H-E-N-O-M-E-N-O-N”
— Boston Globe
“Bananagrams go Hebrew. We’re kvelling!”
— Cool Mom Picks
“Good luck prying this anagram game [Bananagrams] away from students.”
— Scholastic
“Appletters will tickle word lovers to the core.”
— Everyday with Rachael Ray
“Gotta love the Bananagrams.”
— Kathie Lee Gifford
“This [Bananagrams] is so portable, I stash it in my car.”
— Kristen Bell
“Who’s up for a round of Bananagrams, anybody?”
— Jimmy Kimmel
“I love Bananagrams.”
— Ellen DeGeneres
"Maggie Smith loves it. They'll be like 'can we have you back on set' and she's just like [imperious wave of the hand] 'not now.' "
— Lily James, Lady Rose on Downton Abbey
" of my favorite games ever, Bananagrams – a fun, fast,addictive word game that will become a family favorite"
— Katie Couric