posted on: Thursday February 25, 2010
Kaitlyn Monast ’13/ News Staff
Words known and unknown, students guessed their way through the Office of Residence Life’s first annual spelling bee, putting “txt talk dwn” and middle school students to shame.
“I [was] thrilled, speechless, flabbergasted,” said Ned Erilus, hall director. “It [was] such a humbling experience to witness students put themselves out there and engage [themselves] in the English language in an intense competition. That is why we do what we do—not to write people up or anything, rather to create meaningful opportunities and experiences.”
Modeling the Scripps National Spelling Bee, 20 students used their education, luck, and a few questions in hopes of getting $400 worth of books or graduate school applications paid for, and two tickets to New York and to the Museum of Natural History.
“It was a fun flashback to middle school,” said Corey Brunelle ’12. “It was interesting and fun. I was just trying to picture the word on paper and spell it slowly, that way I would not make any mistakes.”
The spelling bee consisted of six rounds until only two competitors were standing. Contestants’ names were selected at random to determine the order of the competition. Each student was given two and a half minutes for each word. They could request for a sentence, origin, definition, alternate pronunciation, and part of speech. They were allowed to start spelling the word over again, but they were told to indicate if they were doing so.
The first word up was barbecue, spelled perfectly by the first contestant. Words came one after the other in the first round, ranging from “tooter,” accompanied by a sentence involving beans and tooting that caused an uproar in the audience, to the first misspelled word “reconnaissance,” spelled incorrectly as r-e-c-o-n-a-i-s-s-a-n-c-e.
Round two eliminated five students with words like “Peloponnesian” and sentences involving “dysentery”— a disorder involving overalls full of diarrhea and blood. Four students were eliminated in round four one including Brunelle.
“I misspelled ‘fuchsia’,” he said. “I knew it was a pink flower, but I did not know whether it was ‘schia,’ ‘csch,’ or what. There were too many ‘c’s and h’s.”
By the fourth round students were spelling on their arms, and hands, and asking for more in-depth information about the words. The round started with “connoisseur”, spelled incorrectly as c-o-n-n-i-s-e-u-r, included kerfuffle spelled incorrectly, and ended with furlough spelled correctly. Four students were eliminated to leave the final three.
“Depending on the round you may have known all the other words and if you got the one word that you did not know how to spell you were like ‘grr,’ said third place speller Amberly Glitz ’12.
Glitz was knocked off in the third round for misspelling “weald.” In the sixth round, the top two were Jeremiah Begley ’10 and Katrina Davino ’10. The rules changed in the final round. If a word was misspelled by one player, was then given to the other. In order to win the contestant was required to spell the misspelled word correctly and a new word as well.
Playing rock, paper, scissors to determine who went first, Davino took the microphone to spell her first word, “yarmulke.” She did so correctly. Battling back and forth seven times, Davino and Begley each misspelled words like “topodeme,” and “xyloid.” The last part of the round the word given to Begley was “scutellate.” When he mispelled the word, Davino spelled it correctly and then spelled “washtrough” to take the competition and the prize.
“I was trying to picture the words,” said Davino. “I have never been in a spelling bee before so I was terrified all the letters were going to come out of my mouth wrong. It was so hit or miss. I would listen to word after word—some I could spell no problem, but others I was glad I did not get [because] there was no way I could spell them.”
Begley was glad just to be on what he called “borrowed time.” In four out of the six rounds there were technical issues with Begley’s words. In the first round he was brought back by a technicality, having been told the word was spelled wrong before he repeated it, which is against spelling bee rules.
Begley received the second place prize of $100 to Barnes and Noble. Davino and Begley were the two highest scorers in the written elimination round Wednesday. Forty-one students attended the test. Fifty-two words were given, two for each letter.
“It is so difficult to create a worthwhile, meaningful, and educational program,” said Erilus. “Students get education every day, so when they hear of an educational program they may not want to attend, but we [were] thrilled with the attendance.””It was great to bridge the gap between Res Life and [the]academic community at [the College],” said Occhiogrosso.