VINTON–One of the spelling words called at the Roanoke County Schools Spelling Bee on February 22 was “automaton” and that is what the final five spellers in the event sometimes appeared to be as they competed round after round with great confidence.
Some asked for definitions, word origin, and a sentence using the called word; one consistently traced out the word on her hand before responding, but others just spelled quickly from the pronunciation.
Twenty-two students in grades five through eight represented all of the county’s elementary and middle schools at the annual competition held once again at Northside Middle School. An alternate was also selected by each school. The event was originally planned for Feb. 15 but was rescheduled due to inclement weather.
Vinton area representatives in fifth grade at the elementary schools included school winner Reagan Dillard and alternate Bre Hodges from Bonsack Elementary, winner Riley Wheeler and alternate Madison Burks from Herman L. Horn, Garrett Sexton and alternate Sam Ferris from Mount Pleasant, and Martina Mihelcic and alternate Aubrianna Coe representing W.E. Cundiff Elementary. Adithya Iyer and alternate Jumana El Shenawy participated from William Byrd Middle School.
Seventh grader Iyer from WBMS placed second in the competition, winning a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 for his efforts. Each school-level winner receives a base-model Kindle Fire, purchased with budgeted district funds.
First place went to Brendan Killeen from Glenvar Middle School who will move on to the Regional Spelling Bee at the Holiday Inn Valley View on March 12, with Iyer serving as alternate. The regional winner advances to the National Spelling Bee held in Washington, D.C.
Amy Cummings, the Director of Social Studies, served as Spelling Bee Coordinator and facilitated the day’s event.
One of the judges, Dr. Linda Wright, Director of Elementary Instruction, in welcoming the students, parents, teachers, and administrators noted that she is not a particularly good speller herself, but said she was impressed that the skill “is innate to you.”
The spelling bee is conducted in rounds. All spellers were seated onstage and stepped to the microphone to hear their word for that round. Each faced the judges, pronounced the word, spelled the word, and pronounced the word again.
The spelling bee started off with a practice round with words like “dog” and “egg” to make sure that the students understood the procedures and that the microphones were adjusted correctly.
The official Bee got underway with the word “cushy,” and went on to include “bandersnatch” (a mythical creature), “panzer” (a German tank), “geoponics” (the study of agriculture), “polder” (low-lying land), “juggernaut” (an unstoppable force), and “turbot” (a type of flat fish).
After the students spelled the given word, they returned to their seat if the word was correct or left the stage if the judges called the spelling incorrect.
Student rounds continue until only one in the round spells their word correctly. That student must spell an additional “championship” word to be declared the winner.
The spelling bee coordinators at the Vinton Schools were Lisa Cunningham at Bonsack, Dorr Booan at HLH, Beth Letz at Mount Pleasant, Sandra Hunt at WEC, and Kay Woodson at WBMS.
The panel of judges was made up of Dr. Wright, Dr. Ken Nicely, Director of Secondary Instruction, Barry Trent, Coordinator of Health, PE, and Driver’s Education, and retired English teacher Rachel Davis. Teacher Harrilyn Mills from Cave Spring High School again served as pronouncer.
Spelling bees are sponsored across the nation by the Scripps Company “to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.”