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District spelling bee promises emotional competition

Published Monday, January 21, 2019

2018 spelling bee winners

This photo shows the top three finishers of the 2018 district bee. Pictured from left to right are Ian Mullaney, third; Nicolas Smith, second and Brent Ebarle, first. (BCSD photo)

BCSD students and parents will pack the auditorium at Berkeley High School on Thursday for the annual district spelling bee, and there are several definites those attending the event can expect.

Back-to-back winner Brent Ebarle aged out of the bee this year, so there will be a new champion. The top spellers from each middle school in the district will be challenged by words as long as five syllables or words chosen to add trickery to the competition. Students are sure to ask for the definition and use of many seemingly-simple words as they look to avoid falling victim to nervousness and homophones.

District Secondary ELA Coordinator Charlie Sweeney said there about 400 words selected and provided to the district that are sure to make the competition exciting for students who have been practicing for months. 

“I just like seeing these kids show off what they can do,” Sweeney said. “Word to word, there can be so much variation. They have got to be prepared for a good amount of thinking and the analysis part of the language.”

The top 12 finishers will represent BCSD in a regional spelling bee with an opportunity to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. For most, Sweeney said, the experience will be an emotion-filled opportunity to learn, grow and improve.

“One letter can make a big difference in a spelling bee,” he said.

The bee will begin in the BHS auditorium at 6 p.m. event is expected to last 60-90 minutes and it’s open to spectators as room allows.

Brian Troutman