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Spelling bee challenges kids, raises funds

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

The idea of winning the spelling bee had kids zipping through the auditorium, jumping in their seats, and playing games with friends. “It’s amazing that they’re this excited about spelling,” joked one mom. The third grade, which had its spelling bee earlier in the day, was reported to have been even more energized, if one could believe it.

Nonetheless, the fourth grade spelling bee was buzzing with its own enthusiastic excitement.

Friday, January 3, marked the Foundation for Westwood Education’s annual spelling bee. The bee, held for students in grades 3-5, is a key fundraiser for the Foundation; funds raised at the bee are returned to the schools and community in the form of educational grants.

The first teams of fourth graders were called up to the stage, with the remaining teams eager for their turn. As the kids calmed down, the host of the event read the rules. Each section would be timed, with a judge to check the spelling of each team. Once a team incorrectly spelled a word, they would be knocked out of the competition. In the event that every team got a word wrong, they would all be knocked out of the competition and the next round would begin.

The first round started off with the word “sure.” After hearing the sentence read by Principal Sean Bevan, the teams carefully decided how to spell each word. Each team continued to get every word right until “probably,” which knocked one team out. The remaining teams for the round continued on until "separate,” which every team got wrong, eliminating them from the spelling bee.

Round two began with just as much electricity as the first. The word “possess” knocked out all teams, except for teams six and eight. A murmur of "wows" could heard when both teams correctly spelled the word “recommend.” The perfectly-spelled "commitment" received cheers from the audience. When both teams correctly spelled "eligible," their competition even started cheering for them. Finally, the winning streak came to an end when team six spelled "satellite" correctly, making them the winners of the second round.

Round three consisted of teams 11-15. "Knowledge” knocked team 15 out before "agreeable” knocked out team 12. The round continued, with team 13 succeeding in correctly spelling "laboratory."

Round four began with a good stride, with all teams making it to the fourth word. “Sincerely” took out teams 17 and 18, while “pastime” booted 16 from the competition. "Occurrence” knocked 19 from the competition and made 20 the winning team for the round.

For the final round, winners from the previous rounds, which included teams six, 13, and 20, came back on stage. These master spellers seemed to take on each word with serious skill, making it through "usually,” “athlete,” “business,” “parallel,” “noticeable,” and “definite.” “Believable,” was the end for team 20 in the competition, while teams 13 and six continued on. Both teams battled on for nine more words before attempting to spell "graffiti.” The audience waited as they watched each team scribble down an answer. Team 13 was incorrect, making team six, the Downy GOATS, the fourth-grade winners.

Soon after, the fifth-graders would have their own shots at glory.

In the meantime, the assembled enthusiastically cheered for the victors. Each winner received a medal and ended the competition with a team picture with the bee’s mascot. For these kids, spelling isn’t just a classroom chore, it’s a chance to show off their skills and set an example of friendly competition.

And, for that matter, a chance to raise some crucial educational funds for their community.

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