Spelling bees are t-o-u-g-h
Sitting below a poster that read "mistakes are proof that you are trying," the 20 elementary school students nervously squirmed and fidgeted as the spelling bee was about to begin at MLA Elementary School.
"Be proud of yourself for being here," Principal Sheri Fitzsimmons said to the spellers, who won their classroom bees. But she warned there will only be one winner and managing the stress and possible loss in the bee was an important life lesson.
A handful of East Multnomah County schools choose to hold spelling bees in the winter. The winners head up to the big regional spelling bee in Portland in March.
East Orient Elementary School held its spelling bee earlier in February. Aubrey won by correctly spelling "superintendent," much to the delight of Gresham-Barlow School District Superintendent Katrise Perera, who was in attendance.
Back at charter school MLA, none of the spellers were eliminated in the first round, but the word "skim" tripped up a speller in the second round. Four Meerkats were eliminated in the third round, stumped by the words "pirate," "compost," "dither" and "rambling."
The fourth round was challenging, with one student carefully weighing her options on "pesky," struggling with the choice for the last letter. She was successful, picking the "y," to cheers from parents. Three more students were eliminated in the fourth round.
"Things get real in the fifth round," Fitzsimmons said, and, indeed, six more students were eliminated. Of the six students left for the sixth round, two more were eliminated, defeated by "regents" and "hoarsely."
With one second-grader and three upperclassmen remaining, the second-grader dissolved into tears when he missed the troublesome "ricochet." He was tenderly comforted by the remaining spellers and Fitzsimmons, all pointing out how well he'd done for being so much younger than the other spellers.
Fifth-grader Ruby Hohnstein was triumphant, correctly spelling the tough word "piece de resistance."
Her mom, Kirsten Wageman, leapt out of her chair and hugged her victorious scholar.
"This is her third spelling bee and we're so glad she finally won. Ruby loves words," said mom.