Nerves ran high at the third annual Herald Journal Unified Spelling Bee as the top five spellers from five different schools competed for first place Monday evening.
Just over two dozen students participated in the spelling bee at the Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan. Competitors came from Bear River Charter School; The Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Discovery; Edith Bowen Laboratory School; and Thomas Edison Charter Schools north and south campuses.
The pronouncer guide and students study lists were provided by Scripps, the national organization that sponsors the National Bee televised on ESPN every year.
“To prepare for the HJ Unified Charter Spelling Bee, students were given a ‘Words of Champions’ spelling list with over 4000 words. This is a change from previous years,” Amy Kleiner, the spelling bee committee chair, wrote in an email.
“Up to this point, Scripps provided a study list called the ‘Spell it’ list that contained about 1100 words on it. This new ‘Words of Champions’ list that began this year is far more intimidating to the students in our valley.”
Although students were given a list of 4,000 words to study, the pronouncer read off a list of 350 of those words. Another list of unstudied words was prepared just in case the students made it through the 350-word list, although this did not happen in Monday night’s 40-minute bee.
Per Lewis, a fifth-grade student won first place; Britton Buck, a sixth-grade student won second place; and Phoebe Buck, a fifth-grade student, won third place. The top three students all attend the Center for Creativity, Innovation, and Discovery.
“I didn’t think I would (win),” Lewis said. “I didn’t really want to (study), so I didn’t really start until the last two weeks … but I studied pretty good.”
Lewis will move on to the National Spelling Bee that will be from May 25-30 in Washington DC. As part of his prize, airfare and lodging for Lewis and a parent or guardian will be paid for.
“It’s just great to see kids trying something hard,” said Laura Reina, the spelling bee pronouncer and assistant principal at Edith Bowen. “I loved the positive attitudes when they got out, the happy faces that were OK and not upset, and just getting out of their comfort zone and pushing their intelligence.”
Any Cache Valley schools that would like to have students participate in next year’s spelling bee may, as long as they are paying dues to Scripps and are participating under the Scripps guidelines.
“Currently we just have the 5 schools participating but would love to see that increase in the coming years,” Kleiner said.