PES spelling bee tests students’ vocab, determination

The English system of spelling is arguably one of the toughest to learn: It’s fraught with ambiguities, irregularities, inconsistencies and exceptions. It is, in a word, perplexing.

But double consonants, the silent “e” and foreign pronunciations didn’t deter the student finalists at Patch Elementary School from attempting to spell hard to pronounce, obscure words at the school’s annual spelling bee, part of the famed Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Sixteen students in grades three through five demonstrated their spelling prowess, tackling words like “ elucidate” (make clear), “lackadaisical” (lacking enthusiasm), and “nebulosity”  (in the form of a cloud or haze).

Some 20 minutes into the competition, more than half of the contestants had been felled by words such as “ duodenum” and “galvanize.” After 40 minutes, only two contestants were left flexing their cerebral cortices — fourth-grader Brennan Schroeder and third-grader Rhoslyn Owens.

A large crowd of parents, teachers and supporters watched as the competitive spellers continued to ace words. The interplay between the two students was as impressive as the words that rolled off their tongues; at each turn, Schroeder and Owens replied with determination and smiled from ear to ear when the other nailed a word.

The bee’s official pronouncer, elementary teacher Sarah Leger, cycled through more than 150 words before Schroeder snatched first place with “euphoria,” while Owens stumbled on the word “incremental.”

“I reviewed every word on the list,” said Schroeder, who at the tender age 8 already has four competitions under his belt. “This was the second time I won,” he said, crediting his success to both a good luck charm worn by his mother, Erin, and months of reviewing the bee’s spelling word list.

 One hundred students at Patch participated in the overall competition, sponsored by the school’s parent teacher association. The winner and runner-up walked away with trophies, while the other finalists were awarded medals.
Schroeder will head to Ramstein Elementary School next month to compete in the Germany-wide spelling bee.

For more information on the PES Parent Teacher Association, e-mail Upcoming PTA events include its annual sock hop.