I took the morning off to go read words and be a judge at the junior high Spelling Bee. What fun! I actually knew well over half the kids who were in the bee…they were either friends of Junior High Kid’s, or they were MY friends’ kids, kids I’ve had in various writing classes, kids I knew from Footliters…I didn’t know who to root for!
Don’t worry…it was okay that I knew a lot of these kids…it was totally fair because 1) there were three of us reading/judging; and 2) we were given copies of the word list ahead of time and told to choose which words we were going to read and then put them in order (I had to choose from the P-Z words). So I couldn’t just look up at who was next and then choose my word; my list was there in front of me and I had to give the next one on my list (the list I’d made ahead of time).
There was one guy who was given the word “hymn” and without asking for a definition, he just blurted out “H-I-M,” which, of course, was incorrect. I really felt for him…if I had been running the bee, I would’ve insisted that every reader offer a definition and then use the word in a sentence. It doesn’t seem fair to leave it to the kid to have to ask for a definition…not with all the homonyms in the list. (I also have to mention there were words in my list that, according to Websters, have more than one acceptable spelling! What do you do if the kid gives an alternative spelling that’s NOT the one on your list??? (I didn’t choose any of those words in my list…))
My other complaint was we never got to the “final round words!” We were asked to choose words from/for three different lists ahead of time — the “first round” list, the “intermediate words,” and the “final words” (I brought my own dictionary because I wanted to make sure I could both pronounce AND define the words I chose from that list…that’s how challenging those words were.). We used the first round words just for the first round…then we stayed in the “intermediate words” list for the rest of the bee.
Which means the kid who won the bee, won it on the word “semiautomatic” (that was the next word in my list), while other kids were out on words like “polycyclic” or “rutabaga.” Shouldn’t we have moved on to the “final word” list when we were down to the last two spellers???
I ached for the girl I THOUGHT was going to win it…I didn’t know her, but she was so meticulous. She asked for lots of repeats and definitions to make sure she had the right word, and then she took her time spelling (they were allowed to write the word out and THEN read off what they wrote) with every single word, except the one she lost on! The word she lost on (borderline) was so much easier than a lot of the words she’d had before that she didn’t need any clarification…she knew the word (I KNOW she knew the word!), but when she spelled it, she stumbled and accidentally mixed up the “r” and the “l.” And she knew it the second she did it. But if you give a wrong letter, you can’t go back and erase it. So she was out. (She was an amazing sport, though…she just smiled and said “that’s okay,” and she congratulated the kid who won…) But kudos to the kid who won, too! He had a nice attitude throughout, too…and he did a great job! It’s not that he didn’t deserve to win…I just hate to see the second place person get out by tripping over her tongue on a word she knows rather than simply not knowing how to spell a word.
It was a really fun experience, though…I’d definitely do it again!