CALDWELL, N.J. – Fifth-grade students at Wilson Elementary School, in West Caldwell, took part in an unusual lunchtime competition once again this year, by participating in the school’s annual Connect Four competition. Held during lunch on Fridays throughout December and January, fifth graders at the school participate in the competition to earn bragging rights and their name in the winner’s spot on a poster hung prominently in the school’s cafeteria.

Connect Four, also known as Captain's Mistress, Four Up, Plot Four, Find Four, Fourplay, Four in a Row and Four in a Line, is a two-player game in which the players take turns dropping colored discs from the top into a seven-column, six-row grid. The pieces fall, occupying the next available space within the column. The objective of the game is to connect four of the same color discs next to each other vertically, horizontally, or diagonally.

The competition, created by Principal Scott Keena, 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.

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“This is a game where everyone has 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.”

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

This year, David Cohen and Mia DeRosa competed for the title of Connect Four Champion. As their peers looked on, wishing them luck and rooting them on, Cohen won the competition in four 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.”