Casting a spell: Clever kids clean up in spelling bee

Date Published: 
Nov. 10, 2017

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: About 27 entrants smile before the competition begins, alongside Southern Sussex Rotarians and other special guests.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: About 27 entrants smile before the competition begins, alongside Southern Sussex Rotarians and other special guests.“Confidence” might be the word of the night, as 27 Indian River School District third-graders competed in the third annual Spelling Bee.

Southern Sussex Rotary hosted the event for southern district students on Nov. 1 at John M. Clayton Elementary.

This year, top prizes went to (first place) Alana Chew of Lord Baltimore Elementary School; (second place) Lauren Myers, Southern Delaware School of the Arts; (third place) Yoselyn Patraca-Carmona, Phillip C. Showell Elementary School; and (fourth place) Catherine Bunting, Lord Baltimore.

Seated on stage, some students swung their feet, not quite reaching the floor, as they watched their peers. Pausing from her duties as moderator, or “pronouncer,” Becky Burton told the audience how the students were encouraging each other.

“They’re up here going, ‘You can do it!’”

They breezed past words like circus, piece, service, raised, newspaper, tuna, doctor, roses, happen and mouse.

They also overcame homonyms like sail, sale, raised, wore, wrote, threw and none. Even on the hardest words, they made good, educated guesses.

After 10 rounds the final four were left. Those students brought their A-game, so it took about 10 more rounds to determine the winner. At last, Chew won for “shiny” and “together.”

“I salute all of you guys out there…have a good time here tonight,” said guest speaker State Rep Ron Gray (R-38th). “I am very proud of you, and so are your families.”

Every year, the Rotary gives dictionaries to every third-grader in these four schools, plus G.W. Carver Academy. For 2017, they distributed about 340 dictionaries to nearby schools (plus 55 Spanish-English volumes for the JMC Spanish Immersion kindergarten families).

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: These super girls competed through 11 rounds to make the top four. After about 11 more rounds, the winner was named. Pictured here are, from left, Yoselyn Patraca-Carmona, Catherine Bunting, Lauren Myers and Alana Chew.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: These super girls competed through 11 rounds to make the top four. After about 11 more rounds, the winner was named. Pictured here are, from left, Yoselyn Patraca-Carmona, Catherine Bunting, Lauren Myers and Alana Chew.They decided to follow-up by hosting a Spelling Bee. All the important elements are there: audiences holding their breaths as students one-by-one speak letters and words into the air, although it doesn’t officially link to state or national competition.

“It’s just something fun. We try to make it a nice event, an easy event, because it’s nerve-wracking for a third-grader to do a spelling bee at that age,” said organizer Brendan Crotty.

Each school sent about two children per classroom, some teachers even hosting their own mini spelling bees to choose finalists.

“This is a great event with an early school year competition to display the deep talent of the students that are in our school district,” said IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele, who joked that his own talent lies in math and physics. “Academic competitions have lessened over time and this is a great platform to display our local academic talent.”

Prizes included a first-place bicycle, plus gift cards, toys, ice cream, door prizes and other gifts donated by local businesses. Every student also took home a Rotary backpack.

Afterward, teachers proudly commented on their winning students.

“Alana [Chew] is a wonderful student to have in class,” said LB teacher Jennifer Polly. “Alana is incredibly conscientious of her work, so it is no surprise that she won the spelling bee for third grade. I am lucky to be her teacher!”

“It is very exciting to have Lauren Myers represent SDSA as the second-place Spelling Bee finalist,” said teacher Mary Litchfield. “She did an awesome job and is a very determined and focused student. It is a pleasure having her in class, and our school is very proud of her.”

“Yoselyn Patraca-Carmona is a fabulous student. She is very respectful and humble … and does a great job in the classroom,” said PCS teacher Tanita Thomas. “She is a well-rounded student and succeeds at everything is puts her mind to. I’m very proud of her accomplishment in the Spelling Bee. I knew she would go far!”

“Catherine [Bunting] is an enthusiastic learner who always puts forth her best effort. Our class is so proud of all her hard work,” said LB teacher Olivia Kortvelesy.