Spelling Bee T-A-C-H-Y-C-A-R-D-I-A

January 23, 2016 — 1 Comment

“Diametrically”

“Diametrically…May I have a definition, please?”

“completely; utterly”

“Diametrically…May I hear it in a sentence, please?”

“The debaters held diametrically opposed viewpoints.”

“Diametrically….D-I-A-M-E-T-R-T-R-I-C-A-L-L-Y…Diametrically.”

“That is correct.”

BeeThis past week, two 5th grade students from Carrigan Intermediate School went 24 rounds participating in the West Haven Public School District’s 35th annual Spelling Bee. In 20 minutes, they had defeated a series of challengers going head to head, word for word. Some of these words posed a challenge for anyone, regardless of grade:

“Hubris: H-u-b-r-i-s ”
“That is correct.”
“Infrastructure: I-n-f-r-a-s-t-r-u-c-t-u-r-e”
“That is correct.”
“Resilience: R-e-s-i-l-i-e-n-c-e”
      “That is correct.”

I am not sure who was more nervous….Me? (My first year coordinating this event at the district level) The parents ? The teachers? the  Board of Education members in attendance?


“Arboreal: A-r-b-o-r-e-a-l”
      “That is correct.”
“Commodious: C-o-m-m-o-d-i-o-u-s”
      “That is correct.”

There were eight students who qualified for this district final. They had been bussed to the City Hall that morning, and they sat in office chairs reserved for members of the Board of Education. These chairs had never swiveled so nervously.

The Superintendent of Schools, Neil C. Cavallaro, was the moderator. After congratulating the students on reaching this final round, he began to read from the list of the words organized on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website.

West Haven Spelling Bee 2016

Six of the eight contestants waiting to spell in the West Haven Spelling Bee 2016

The tradition of qualifying for the National Spelling Bee began in 1925. The E.W. Scripps, a broadcasting company, took over sponsorship of the National Spelling Bee in 1941. The purpose:

Our purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.

The sponsor for this year’s event for our school district is Quinnipiac University, a new sponsor for our region. They will be hosting the 2016 regional finals and sending a champion to the national finals held May 1-2. Our local spelling bee was set up to determine that champion who would go to the regional challenge. and the grade level winners received $25 gift certificates to Barnes and Noble from the schools’ PTA.

The final two challengers-two 5th graders -were a study in contrasts: Ayannah, calm and collected, facing off against Arin, confidently enthusiastic. The adults in the audience watching the contest sat mentally spelling each of the words or mouthing the spelling: “languish”, “germane”, “ostensibly”. The only sound coming from their area were the audible sighs of relief after each “That is correct” from the moderator.

The word “acoustics” proved to be too tricky for Ayannah. There was hush…and the audience sat riveted as Arin mastered “acoustics” and then spelled “molasses” correctly for the win. Cheers and applause erupted with the last “That is correct!” 5th grade Arin will move onto the regionals, and (hopefully) the national round.  He will be a great representative for the West Haven School District.

Watching our small event was akin to watching a sporting match, so it is no wonder that the National Spelling Bee is broadcast live on ESPN channels. Want to know how exciting a spelling be can be? Watch the final moments of last year’s Scripps National 2015 Spelling Bee, and try not to have your heart race:

“Tachycardia”
“May I have a definition, please?”
“an abnormally rapid heart rate”

One response to Spelling Bee T-A-C-H-Y-C-A-R-D-I-A

  1. 

    i definitely felt the nerves in the room. Thanks for sharing!

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