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March 15, 2013

STAWAR: Spelling from ‘A’ to ‘bee’

Many students have sought fame and glory in the world of competitive spelling. I, however, hold the distinction of misspelling the word “curriculum” six times in my application for a doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. 

Kindly Dr. Clark with a remarkably straight face told me that it would probably be a good idea if I learned how to spell the word if I intended to get a doctoral degree in it. Thus was the world before spell- check. 

Thanks to comic books I was a pretty good reader, but I seemed to have a touch of dysgraphia, as my handwriting and my spelling always left much to be desired. Oh, I could learn to spell hard words in areas that interested me, like “Mr. Mxyzptlk” (Superman’s impish adversary from the fifth dimension), but I’ve always had a devil of time remembering even common words that have complex vowel combinations or doubled constants. 

Spelling always made me kind of anxious, so I was surprised when my wife Diane and I found ourselves attending the 20th Annual Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee. It was held Saturday morning at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The contest, which is sponsored by Ford Motor Co., took place in the swanky PNC Club, a luxury stadium suite with a glassed-in view of the playing field. 

We were there because our oldest granddaughter Tori was one of the 65 contestants participating this year. This was Tori’s second appearance at the event. She represented Kenton County and had won the county championship by beating out a number of other school champions, including her younger sister. 

The Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee is sometimes referred to as the Kentucky State Spelling Championship, but it includes students from Indiana as well. In fact, the second-place finisher this year was a girl from Lawrence County.

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