Spellers buzz through tough competition
May 20, 2008
Competitive. C-O-M-P-E-T-I-T-I-V-E. Competitive. The top young spellers in the Park City area faced off at The Park Record Spelling Bee last Friday to determine the top wordplayers in the second to seventh grades.
The contest began. with the second and third grade entrants. Most of the students hung around through the initial words and the field only began to narrow as more intricate words were introduced. The top two finishers brought the round to an end with a closely matched tie-breaker that wrapped with a little drama.
Cole Lee misspelled his word and actually left the stage before the judges called him back. Each of the remaining two competitors must spell any assigned word to win. Even though Lee missed the word "definite," Ethan Novak had to catch the word as well. Despite a solid performance to that point, Novak also missed the word and Lee received a rare second chance. He made good on that opportunity and won the grade level by spelling "dehydrate" correctly.
The fourth and fifth grade round went to the wire as well. Charlie Barth and Patrick Schloesser went through the entire regular list of words and then spelled out all the words on the tie-breaker list correctly. Neither of the students lost much nerve in the contest as both kept steady and accurate all the way to the end. For Dr. Amy Fehlberg, Principal of the Colby School and a judge at the Bee, maybe the "most exciting part was getting to the end of the word list" in the fourth and fifth grade round "flamboyantly" was the last word in the round.
Students in the sixth and seventh grade bee proved the range of their vocabulary as well with an array of intricate words. This round was equally hard fought and once again all of the contestants showed a real capacity for words as most did not leave the stage for a handful of difficult of words. Julie Glusker, judge and former English teacher, said that the maturity of this group really impressed her because their vocabularies were really advanced. Arthur Occon of Ecker Hill International Middle School eventually won.
All of the contestants who participated in the Bee received certificates from Park Record Publisher Andy Bernhard, while the first-through third-place winners took home bobble-head bee trophies. Awards were presented at the finish of each round so that parents and children could continue with their busy Friday schedules.
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All the same, the crowd stayed active at the Egyptian Theater for the entire championship but really swelled during the final round. After missing words, some children ran into the audience to be with their parents who usually offered consolation, or a forgotten letter.
After its second successful year, plans are underway to improve the bee again next year. Because the students demonstrated such a mastery of the words, planners will have to look at more difficult word selection for next year. Especially as these words get more difficult, planners will also have to start assembling sentences to correlate with many words that even adults don’t use frequently. "I think that the words that were in the words list were really appropriate For certain groups just to make it even more challenging," said Glusker.
A list of words used in the contest by grade level:
Second and third grade
Fourth and fifth grade
Sixth and seventh grade