“This word has a near homonym. It is an adjective meaning having or revealing natural creative skill. The word is artistic.”
And so began the spelling bee. Last week, I found myself sitting in the cafeteria of my daughter’s elementary school watching 19 fourth and fifth graders square off to find out who was the best speller.
Before I go into how the spelling bee went for Lexie, let’s see how she got there. Back at the beginning of November, Lexie brought home a list of words and announced she wanted to try out for the spelling bee. The test would be in a few weeks.
Lexie is a good speller. I guess she gets that from her Gramme as none of the rest of us are that good at spelling. I am the type of person that needs to write something down, so I am not good for a spelling bee.
Lexie studied the list of words and took her test. And scored high enough to be one of the 20 students who would participate in the school spelling bee. Now, I don’t know the number of kids who tried out but there are 225 fourth and fifth graders at her school, so to be one of the selected few was an awesome achievement.
After I signed her permission slip – which also warned us that the winner of the spelling bee was required to be available to participate in the citywide spelling bee in March – we received a more extensive list of words that ranged from easy words like maze and soggy to harder words like mockingly and ambuscade.
We began studying. I was surprised Lexie was so into preparing for this. We practiced a few times a week and then over winter break when the kids were off for 2 weeks we began practicing daily.
And as the spelling bee approached, Lexie began to get nervous. She would be spelling in front of half the school (third through fifth grade attends the spelling bee). What if she was the first one out? What if she got out for misspelling an easy word? What if her classmates teased her for getting knocked out of the spelling bee?
I told her that nineteen of those kids would be knocked out. There could only be one winner. And sometimes you get knocked out by messing up on what others might consider an easy word. But she shouldn’t focus on that. She had gotten in the spelling bee. She was one of 20 to compete and that was more than her classmates could say.
On the day of the spelling bee, Lexie was still nervous. And I am sure seeing the crowd did nothing to calm her. She was the last speller – number 19. (One of the 20 chosen students didn’t turn in the permission slip.) Finally, it was her turn to spell. Her word was “scratched.”
After asking for the definition and to hear the word in a sentence, Lexie began to spell.
And there she stopped. I kept waiting for her to add the “E-D” but she didn’t. And then bing, the bell rang letting her know she had misspelled the word and she was out of the spelling bee in the first round. Ugh. I felt bad for her. Not only was her fear of making a mistake in the spelling bee coming true but she was the first one out.
During a break, I went to see her. She was in tears. I comforted her and so did one of her friends. Lexie didn’t realize that she got knocked out for forgetting two letters. I pointed out that another contestant also met the same fate by spelling swivel instead of swiveled.
Eighteen rounds later, the spelling bee was finally over and a fourth-grader stood as champion. Lexie received a special spirit stick for competing. And to her astonishment, her classmates all congratulated her for competing. An hour after she was knocked out, they had forgotten all about who got knocked out when. They were just happy to be done with sitting on the cafeteria floor.
And now that the spelling bee is over, we are looking forward to this coming weekend where Lexie competes in the First Lego League competition. Lexie was one of 10 students out of the 20 in her robotics club chosen to represent her school in this robotics competition. I hope this one has a better outcome, but regardless of how her group does, I am proud of her.