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Fifteen- fourth and fifth-grade students participated in BRE’s annual spelling bee.

By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Tim Ryckman

Buffalo Ridge Elementary (BRE) held its annual spelling bee on Friday, January 11. Nearly 40 students applied for participation in the bee through a written pre-test, with the top 15 scores advancing to the spelling bee contestant group. The event culminated two months of diligent practice, both individually and collectively, with help from teacher Dana Sedersten.

Nervous and excited chatter filled the gym before the bee began. First-round jitters were eased as each contestant was asked to spell their own first name. Round-two kicked off the official spelling words. In keeping with spelling bee tradition and etiquette, the audience of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students, parents and teachers respectfully kept silent except in-between each round, when loud clapping erupted.

Anticipation and tension mounted as spelling words progressed in difficulty from “owner,” “radar,” and “swoosh” to “shivery,” “interviews,” and”‘blathering.” Two rounds asked remaining contestants to choose the correct definition of a given word instead of spelling it. “Champion: someone who has proven superior.” “Diminutive: small.”

Fifth-grade student Lauryn W. won the spelling bee.

Many of the adults present were awed by the accurate spelling of obscure words such as “offal” (waste parts; viscera after butchering an animal; not to be confused by the more common homonym “awful”) and “haberdasher”’ (men’s clothing and accessories). Other words typically outside the vocabulary for the average 10-year-old child included “trenchant,” “valise” and “jefe” (pronounced ˈhefā).

All 15 contestants showed exemplary sportsmanship and grace throughout the spelling bee. They encouraged and cheered and celebrated one another. Camaraderie was evident both on and off the stage.

After nearly two dozen spelling rounds, the 15 contestants had dwindled to just three. The suspense in the gym amplified as each took a turn spelling increasingly recondite words such as “attenuated” and “cavil.”

According to bee official rules, a winner can only be declared when a speller has won an entire round alone, not simply because everyone else has misspelled. The audience held its collective breath through the final rounds, as the remaining two contestants, both fifth-graders, Tyler H. and Lauryn W. took turns at the microphone. Metallurgy. Emaciated. Cyanide. Noisome. Affidavit; misspelled. With palpable nervousness, Lauryn stood and said “Savanna, S-A-V-A-N-N-A, savanna.” The gym exploded with enthusiastic cheers as Lauryn beamed with relief and pride.

Lauryn will represent BRE at the District Spelling Bee February 2. C-O-N-G-R-A-T-U-L-A-T-I-O-N-S to all the 2019 BRE participants!



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