Bee proud

You can have your baseball.   You can have your American Idol.  I’ll take a good spelling competition any day.

The National Spelling Bee.  That’s entertainment.  And it takes place right here in town.

Bee Week is my World Series.  And Bee 2010 did not disappoint.  At least that’s what I read.  Instead of watching the final round Friday night I was at, ahem, a baseball game.

How can you not love a spelling bee?  There are no drunk spectators, it’s a civilized show of preparation and skill and you just want to hug the contestants.  The person giving the words is called the pronouncer, reason enough to love this sport.  And if they broadcast it on ESPN, it’s a sport, no?

This year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee boasted a record 273 spellers ranging in age from 8 to 15 years.

This year’s winner was 14-year-old Anamika Veeramani, from Ohio, who correctly spelled “stromuhr” in the final round.  Just to get to the final, she and other youngsters had to correctly spell words like confiserie, ochidore and leishmanic—and do so with poise and composure under the pressure of live television, bright lights and the presence of fierce competition for a national prize.

These kids today.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Movies, Television and Radio, News, Sports and Recreation

5 responses to “Bee proud

  1. Anita Lawson

    This brought back such memories, and gave me a thrill of civic pride as well, because the winner was from the suburbs of my home town. I was the Cleveland city spelling champ in 1964. In those days it was a Scripps-Howard event, and I went to the National Spelling Bee courtesy of the Cleveland Press. The year I won was my second try; I had placed second the prior year, losing on “bereavement.” This was pretty heady stuff- the finals were televised and my picture was on the front page of the next day’s paper. (You really don’t want to know what I looked like, with my glasses and school uniform.) I was in the 8th grade at Catholic school and had a very limited world view.

    Going to the Bee in Washington meant my first plane ride, and it wasn’t a jet. As a nervous kid prone to motion sickness in cars, I was terrified I would have to use the barf bag in the seat pocket in front of me. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.

    I stayed at the storied Mayflower Hotel, my first time ever being away from home alone. My very patient teacher, Mrs. Kodak, and a young man from the newspaper traveled with me as well. I was 14 and an awkward, self-conscious adolescent. I didn’t make a move without looking to see that one of the adults had done it first. One of my worst moments came when I didn’t follow this rule. Lunching at the Rib Room with several adults, I picked up a hamburger with both hands before realizing that others at my table had cut theirs in half first. Oh, the social agony!

    I did manage to enjoy the week, with its tours of the monuments and other historic sites (including JFK’s grave; this was only 6 months after his assassination.) With my teacher, I walked to the top of the Washington Monument and back down (898 steps each way; you could still do that in those days.)

    How did I do? I placed 45th out of 76 contestants. (By the way, this was long before spelling became a sport, so the finals weren’t televised. And no counselors or grief coaches or quiet rooms when you missed a word. You just took a deep breath, left the stage and the room, and shrugged it off.)

    Words were MUCH easier back then, and more random in their placement at each level of competition. My nemesis was “boutonniere,” and, all these years later, I’ve yet to meet anyone who could spell it correctly.

    • word nymph

      Great story, Anita! I never knew you were such a celeb. Wish we could get you a wider audience. I too learned some spelling in the Cleveland area. I am able to spell today thanks to St. Dominic’s, Shaker Heights.

      • Anita Lawson

        Sister Mary Anthony, my principal at Ascension School, believed this was because the Catholic schools taught phonics. She even told me to mention this when I was interview by the Press reporter! (I didn’t. Back then I was still intimidated by those circumstances.) I do believe I had a superior academic experience in those first 8 years of school. Too bad it took me two years to overcome the social retardation!

  2. Amen, no pun intended. St. D’s hammered phonics, which has served me well. They also assigned 200 math problems a night in second grade; I still have nightmares.

  3. Anita Lawson


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