Buffalo Ridge Elementary spells R-E-S-I-L-I-E-N-C-E
By Celeste McNeil; photos courtesy of Jen Murdock-Jacoway and Claudio Ramos
Students at Buffalo Ridge Elementary school showed they can persevere and enjoy “regular” school activities, even if the way they participate shifts to wearing face masks, face shields and physical distancing. 2020 brought a record number of students who tried out for the annual spelling bee. Sixty kids applied and took the practice test; the top 16 competed. Fourth grade student Isabella R. won with the word “disgorged.” Isabella was thankful for Dana Sedersten, BRE second grade teacher and spelling bee aficionado, her sister who helped by being her stand-in word coach, and her parents and friends for their support.
Like so many aspects of life recently, this year’s spelling bee was very different from bees in the past. Students were not allowed to practice collectively in-person and didn’t know what the bee format would look like until days before it was scheduled to take place. The students and Sedersten practiced virtually and were prepared for a virtual bee, but were relieved and happy to spell in person. “I’m just so pleased that we were able to have a bee to celebrate these terrific kids!” stated Sedersten.
With no one other than students and staff allowed in the schools, there was no audience beyond Principal Jen Murdock-Jacoway for this year’s spelling bee. In years past, the whole school attended, as well as each participant’s parents. When the spelling bee concluded, the students took turns calling their parents to let them know how it went. Technology teacher Monica Harmon and librarian Jody Robinson judged.
Sedersten was impressed with all the student’s compassion and resilience. “The kids were all really supportive of each other, even though they really didn’t know each other. One of my students was an eLearner; one of my students was so scared she felt like passing out the whole time. The kindness they showed each other after a loss was really touching.” Like Sedersten, Isabella was also impressed with everyone who participated and the overall good sportsmanship. Isabella will move on to the district level spelling bee in early February.