Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

[friday]

May 30, 2014

Tales from the spelling bee

I spoke to an 11-year-old this week who I swear is a more poised and accomplished version of myself at that age.

She’s the girl I wanted to be then.

Anastasia Spahr, a Maconaquah Elementary School student, is a voracious reader, a writer and quite the speller, it turns out. She competed this week in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

She spelled both of her words correctly during the oral rounds Wednesday — making it through “palmetto” and “chivalrous.”

Her score on a vocabulary and spelling test wasn’t high enough, though, to send her to the semifinal round. But don’t mistake that for failure.

Even making it to the national stage is a win in my book, especially in a generation of texters who think “c u la8r” is grammatically correct or who just don’t care enough to correct themselves.

Spelling has become a dying art.

And even for those of us who studied that art form, making it to the big stage was often a dream just out of reach.

Take me for example.

I was so sure I’d win my school spelling bee in fifth-grade, dominate the county bee and make my way to Washington D.C.

It didn’t quite work out that way.

My cousin Alex and I battled it out for the title in my school’s spelling bee. This was the same kid who’d sneak into my locker in the mornings before school to take a peek at my homework and “check it” against his, though I’m pretty certain his papers were blank.

Needless to say, I wanted to beat him. So I was excited when I heard my word was “sombrero.” It was one I definitely knew.

I paused a moment to consider my answer and then opened my mouth to speak. That’s when it happened. My mouth betrayed me. My brain was thinking “s” but a “c” spewed out of my mouth instead.

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[friday]
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