Best Spellers Compete, Higher Level Bees Cancelled

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Kaitlyn C.

Longfellow's top 11 spellers faced off to see who could make it to the next level.

By Kaitlyn Cole and Anna Marasina,

The word assuasive, meaning calm or soothing, definitely had the right effect for Benji C. when he correctly spelled it to win this year’s Longfellow Spelling Bee.  

A total of 11 students took part in Longfellow’s final round, competing for the honor of attending the next level of the Bee at Lake Braddock Elementary school. If successful, the path could lead all the way to the televised National Scripps Spelling Bee.

Longfellow has already had a couple of people make it pretty far into the different rounds of the Spelling Bee. William F., class of 2016, was 3rd in Fairfax County both years that he competed. Elliot L., class of ’23, won the school bee twice, and as a 7th grader went all the way to the televised national finals, making him 41st in the country.

I participated because I just wanted to see how far I could go,” said Sophia W. “I know that I’m a good speller in general, but I wanted to see if I can actually go up against other people who study for this type of thing.”

Sophia finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. “I did not prepare that much, but there’s a list that you can use, so I went through that list and made sure that I could spell all of the words on it,” said she. She was eliminated on the word thermohaline, which is an adjective meaning “of, or relating to a combination of temperature and salinity.” 

Before they got to stand up and compete in traditional spelling bee style, students had to take a qualifying spelling test. Of the 53 students who took the qualifying test, only the top 15-20% move on to the next round. Twelve people were chosen to move on, but only 11 participated.

The drive and commitment to participate in a spelling bee could be testing your abilities, wanting to win, or just doing something that you like. 

“I wanted to participate because I generally think I am good at spelling. I know a lot of words, I read a lot, I write a lot, so I thought that I would do well,” said Benji.

This was Mr. Bantle’s last year being in charge of the spelling bee, but for him, it was one to remember. 

“My favorite moment came when we had to jump to the last tier of words I bring into every bee,” Bantle said. This is the first time in 19 years of doing this that I had to use that extra set of really difficult words. These are the kind of words you see on the televised finals,” he explained.

Bantle’s favorite word of the competition was diaphoresis. Which is a very interesting choice since the word means “sweating profusely.” Benji won’t have to worry about diaphoresis in the next round of the Bee since events were canceled after quarantining for COVID-19 began.