The Buzz About The Bee

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

BUCKINGHAM — Seated in rows on the stage in alphabetical order according to their last name, each student waited their turn to approach the mic behind a table facing the large audience.

Each student would slowly approach the front of the stage, where all eyes, and ears in this case, would be on them for the next 30 to 60 seconds.

Twelve Buckingham County students, from grades three through eight, would make up the first round of the countywide spelling bee.

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But only one would remain. One student would out-spell the remaining 11, becoming the champion of the 2014 Buckingham County Spelling Bee.

The middle school auditorium was abuzz with words like appellate, mad, work, brush, mammalian, winnow, and congressional.

All words that the students had studied and read and re-read, written out, and repeated for weeks with their parents and friends help.

Each student participating came from their respective local school’s spelling bee competitions, making them the best of the best within their respective schools.

“I’m so proud of each and every student that’s up here on stage. They’re all winners, and they made it this far and that’s remarkable,” commented middle school assistant principal and division bee coordinator Angela Patterson-Jones.

Division superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead told the students and the audience filled with parents and teachers that he was proud of all the participants involved.

Spelling bees in the United States have been held since the early 1800’s. In 1941, the Scripps Howard News Service acquired sponsorship of the National Spelling Bee, and is formally referred to now as the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

High school English teacher Michelle Wright served as the pronouncer of the Buckingham bee, held Thursday, January 30, reading each word to each contestant.

Beginning with a warm-up round, the students spelled words like pet, rug, and cow.

When the bee officially began with the first round, Wright presented words like rock, sand, jump, and milk to the children.

Five and six letter words such as brush, match, cheese, and world would follow in the second round.

The third round is when difficulty began for some of the spellers.

Words like famished, lucrative, and emblazoned were read to the students. As the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds got underway, the words became more and more difficult, testing the students knowledge and the parent’s nerves.

As the words became longer and more complex, students hesitated before spelling them. Some looked at the ground while thinking about the word. Others drew out the letters on their hand with the index fingers.

One of the judges rang a small bell when a student misspelled a word. A sound that the spellers dreaded.

Fourth-grader Jaylen Anderson would never hear the sound of the bell’s ringing after he spelled his words.

Because Anderson correctly spelled dodecahedron, he was named the champion speller.

With a Greek origin, the word means a solid having 12 plane faces. And Anderson had no trouble at all spelling it. He had no hesitation saying the 12-letter word, saying each letter within about five seconds.

His mom and his grandmother both screamed and clapped right after he repeated the word, as the spellers were encouraged to do so by Wright.

“Congratulations,” the pronouncer told Anderson.

The boy jumped up and down several times with his hands in the air.

The correct spelling of the word ombudsman gave Anderson’s fellow fourth grade classmate Lucas Monterrozo the title of runner-up.

Following the bee, Anderson’s teary-eyed mother LaToya Chambers expressed her pride of her son to his teachers and friends.

“I am so happy for him,” Chambers told The Herald. “He has worked very hard, and studied every day, dedicated to learning the words.”

Anderson told the paper that he had been studying for about four weeks. When asked if he was nervous, Anderson responded, “No, sir.”

He indicated that he had heard his winning word before, and had studied it.

“I could tell he had (studied the word) because his grandma was like, you could just see it,” assistant elementary and primary school principal Patti Branch told his family.

Fifth-grader Rachel Bardon, who made it to the fourth round of spelling, said while she had studied a lot, she was still very nervous on the stage.

“Yeah,” Monterrozo, the runner up, said regarding being nervous. “I studied a lot. I wrote all my words down three times so it would help me remember them.”

The fourth grader said he studied in the evenings, at night, and in school.

Following the bee, middle school principal J.B. Heslip presented each student with participation awards, saying they were all “really awesome” in their advancements from their respective schools.

While Anderson will progress to the Richmond Times-Dispatch regional spelling bee in March, the remaining 11 spellers progressed in many ways, expanding their vocabulary, learning how to speak publicly, along with acquiring new studying and time-management skills, making them all winners in learning.