Spelling Bee Champs Share Study Techniqes


Photo by Angela Y. and Daisy L.

Spelling Bee winners (From Left:) 3rd place Rushil K. (8th grade), 2nd place Delaney R.(7th grade), and 1st place Audrey K. (7th grade).

Nineteen students gathered in the library during Lancer Time on Thursday, February 17, to participate in the school spelling bee. Only one would be chosen to move on to the regional competition.

At the beginning of Lancer Time that day, contestants who had passed the qualifying test two weeks earlier gathered in the library. Then, each student randomly chose a number from one to nineteen and sat in chairs by numerical order. The judges—Ms. Hoyle, Ms. Saladino, and Mr. Walker—explained the rules of the spelling bee and held a practice round for contestants to get used to the process. The speller was allowed to ask the judges to provide the definition, part of speech, language of origin, and a sentence containing the word. In addition, students did not have to note punctuation, capitalization, or accent marks, just the correct letters in the correct order.

After a few rounds, the judges ran out of words on the provided list because so many strong spellers were participating in the competition. They moved on to words from the Merriam-Webster dictionary—words that students likely had not studied. More contestants began to get eliminated each round, and eventually, only two remained: 7th graders Audrey K. and Delaney R. 

The atmosphere in the library was filled with nervousness and anticipation. Delaney, who had picked “one” as her number, walked up to the microphone and took off her mask for clarity purposes. Her word was frisure, which is a way of styling hair. Delaney hesitated, having never heard of the word before. She asked multiple times for the definition, part of speech, language of origin, and sentence. “F-R-I-Z-Z-U-R-E?” she finally guessed. The judges looked at each other, nodding for confirmation, and the two remaining contestants seemed to be holding their breaths.

Ding! Ms. Hoyle rang the silver bell on the table, indicating that the word had been misspelled. Delaney trudged disappointedly back to her seat as Audrey stood and walked up to the microphone. If she correctly spelled this word, she would be the winner. Audrey received the word canola, spelling it correctly to win the competition.

“I didn’t realize I won until I actually left the library,” Audrey remarked later. “I was like, ‘oh wait, I just won the spelling bee.’”

However, the victory did not come without putting in a lot of hard work. Students had to study hard if they wanted to win. Audrey wrote down each word five times and asked her Lancer Time classmates and her dad to test her. While she thinks her study strategies contributed to her victory, she also says a large luck factor was present in the spelling bee. Contestants had no way to know which word they would get since there were nineteen students participating and the words on the list were in random order.

2nd place contestant Delaney R. had some studying advice for future contestants. “I suggest that you should study words that are not on the [provided word list],” she said. “[After a few rounds,] they had to go to a regular dictionary so I didn’t know most of the words. And also, learn Spanish because one of my words was ‘hola.’” 

Having some background knowledge of French is also very helpful because a few of the harder words— including allée and d’orsay—were French.

Since Audrey won the school spelling bee, she will move on to regionals, the next level of the competition. The winner from each school in the area will be selected to participate. Audrey is planning to prepare the same way for regionals as she did for the school spelling bee, but she has to do it at a quicker pace because the words are harder, there are more of them, and there is less time to prepare.

“I’m a little scared. I don’t really know ‘cause it’s a lot of words and I don’t know if I can get to them all. But I will try my best,” Audrey said.