WMS completes s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g bee
WORTHINGTON -- An academic endeavor to which the student population was not indifferent took place Wednesday morning in the Worthington Middle School (WMS) media center. Parents were obliged to sit vigil, full of curiosity to see which of the school's top 11 fifth- and sixth-grade spellers would salivate to be the representatives at the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee in Fulda on April 20.
The italicized words above were among the dozens the eager pupils duly took turns spelling during the 11-round, hour-long bee. WMS teachers Hollie Hibma and Paula Wolyniec presided over the competition.
"Spelling bees give students a chance to shine academically," endorsed Hibma, one of the bee's coordinators.
Seemingly easy words like clergy and totem tripped up a couple of contestants, while others quickly rattled off expressionism, decrepitude, neutralize and isoelectronic with no problem.
The 11 participants qualified for the bee through a two-part series of preliminary written tests, placing them at the peak of their local peer group before Wednesday's bee took place.
Ultimately, sixth-grader Davis Moore and fifth-grader Brigitte Beall were the last two spellers standing. They engaged in a spell-off that had them nailing utensil, tenacity, temperature, assassin and annulment but missing single letters in words such as accommodate, appellate and atrium.
"I got kind of lucky at the end when Brigitte misspelled atrium," admitted Moore, the eventual victor when he correctly spelled automaton and baboon to clinch the win.
"I was a little nervous at the start, but when I knew I was at least in second place, it was a little easier," shared Beall.
Joining Moore and Beall at the April 20 regional spelling bee will be Anna Meyer, Payton Sauerbrei, Kalea Appel and Christopher Lopez, the third place through alternate finishers, respectively.
"I had fun last year," said Meyer, who was the alternate in the 2012 event and looks forward to the few practice sessions the six spellers will tackle as a team prior to the April contest.
Not surprisingly, each of the three finalists said they enjoy school and love reading.
"I like fantasies and mysteries, and I just read 'The Sisters Grimm,'" said Beall.
Meyer recently completed the popular novel "The Hunger Games," while Moore said he closed the cover of "Son" by Lois Lowry last week and has since picked up "Watership Down."
Retired District 518 teachers Dorothy Hagemann and Kathy Miller served as enthusiastic judges for the spelling bee.
"I enjoy doing this," acknowledged Hagemann, who retired four years ago after a career as a WMS English teacher.
"I love it," added Miller, a 26-year teaching veteran, "but I am concerned about the future of spelling."
Hibma shares that concern, which is partly why she makes the spelling bee an annual priority.
"In an era of technology, proper spelling is often quickly fixed with spell check," explained Hibma. "When texting, words are intentionally shortened with a lack of regard to spelling. Yet when communicating in the professional world, spelling can be used to judge a person's intelligence and character.
"We need to encourage proper spelling and grammar so our students are more prepared for the professional world."
The 11 smiling WMS students who happily took home brand-new copies of Webster's Dictionary and Thesaurus for their participation couldn't agree more.