BRIGHTON — First- through eighth-grade students at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School fought butterflies in their tummies, stood tall and strove to spell words correctly at the school’s eighth annual spelling bee Feb. 10.
The students knew there would be only one winner, so strategies such as asking for definitions or usages in sentences were used to get a leg up. Sometimes the tactics just delayed the inevitable sound of the bell and elimination.
Students participated in classroom spelling bees to qualify for the big event at the school gym, where the top two from each classroom took the stage. It took the 36 students four rounds and approximately 144 words to reach the end.
Words came quickly and some, such as “fringe,” “torrent” and “mustang,” were spelled successfully.
“Bonkers” was the next word and a definition was requested. “Jed declared if he didn’t get ice cream in the next 10 minutes, he might go bonkers,” said second-grade teacher Dixie Ball.
The word was spelled precisely and no one went bonkers.
As the bee progressed, words grew more challenging. “Beverage,” “origin,” “trellis,” “moxie” and “parable” disqualified five students. “Pedigree,” “bewilder,” “catalog,” “median” and “curfew” were spelled correctly by five others.
It took about an hour for the final two competitors to emerge: Josiah Johns and Hannah Wilson. Josiah spelled “swollen” accurately but Hannah was tripped up by “whiff.”
The final word, “phrasing,” made Josiah, 10, a winner.
“It feels pretty good,” he said. “I think spelling will help me with other school work. If you have to write or read something, you have to know how to spell the words.”
As the winner, Josiah competed Feb. 23 at the regional southeastern Florida Scripps Spelling Bee against 150 students from schools in Glades, Hendry, Okeechobee and Palm Beach counties at the Benjamin School in Palm Beach. He finished in the top 25.