Spelling bee has students buzzing
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Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014

Spelling bee has students buzzing

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/03/12/44/Z063d.Em.138.jpeg|421
    - NANCY THOMASON
    The 2014 Mecklenburg County Independent Schools District Spelling Bee winner is seventh-grader Davis Troutman from Covenant Day School.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/02/03/12/44/NSpND.Em.138.jpeg|237
    - NANCY THOMASON
    Spelling Bee winner Davis Troutman stands with parents Kendall and Karen Troutman and sister, Kelsey.

On Jan. 28, 12 elite spellers descended upon Charlotte Preparatory School to compete in the Mecklenburg County Independent Schools District Spelling Bee.

They came with parents and entourages and high hopes they would win the spot to compete in the Charlotte Observer Regional Spelling Bee on Feb. 24.

David Long, Charlotte Prep’s director of marketing and communications, said that traditionally the school that wins the district will host next year’s spelling bee.

This is the third straight year Charlotte Prep has hosted the bee.

Schools participating this year were: Carmel Christian, Charlotte Christian, Charlotte Country Day, Charlotte Islamic Academy, Charlotte Latin, Charlotte Prep, Covenant Day, Palisades Episcopal, Providence Day, Trinity Episcopal, United Faith Christian Academy and Victory Christian Center School.

The competition began in fall, when students in grades three through eight from tens of thousands of schools nationwide produced their top speller.

Winning spellers move on to district and regional competitions. The culmination of these competitions is the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

The format recently was changed, and now includes rounds of both spelling and verbal vocabulary.

Materials are provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee and lexicographer Merriam-Webster, but all the preparation rests squarely on each student’s shoulders.

At Charlotte Prep, 12 very serious students took to the stage.

Beth Otis, Charlotte Prep’s lower and middle school technology teacher and spelling bee contest moderator, tried to calm students’ nerves and get them ready to spell.

“Don’t ask me for the spelling of the word,” she said when giving the competition rules. “That was ‘bee’ humor, guys.”

Spellers utilized different strategies, and no doubt some lucky charms, to spell the words correctly. Some students asked for the pronunciation of the word over and over again, repeating it to the moderator until they could hear every syllable.

Charlotte Prep student Ananyaa Bharadwaj spelled each word in the palm of her hand to help visualize it. Each time a student approached the microphone, it was with hopes of hearing the words “that is correct” once they finished.

Early rounds included words like “dodecahedron” and “petrograph.” “Vice versa,” “elegiac” and “occipital” were some of the words that stumped spellers.

Memorizing words seemed a more solid approach than resorting to phonetic spelling, because students often were given words like “autobahn” that contained silent letters.

Guessing worked for several surprised students who moved to the next round.

A little over an hour into the completion, two contestants remained: Dylan Gentner from Charlotte Christian and Davis Troutman from Covenant Day.

Dylan missed the word “spaghetti.” She later said she knew how to spell the word but that nerves got the best of her.

Davis countered by spelling “pangolin” and finished the event with the correct spelling of the championship word: “greengage.”

The spelling bee took a total of 69 minutes and 29 rounds. Davis, a seventh-grader, will move on in the competition.

Davis, as cool with his winning status as he was in the completion, said he studied a list of 1,150 provided words and definitions with his father to prepare for the spelling bee.

When asked what is his preparation strategy for the next level he said, “I knew the majority of words today. I’m just going to study the words and do my best.”

Nancy Thomason is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Nancy? Email her at greatstories28270@gmail.com.

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