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The Bee's Best

BY CAROLINE EGGERS - ceggers@perutribune.com

Cyclops. Segregation. Chesapeake. Callous. Grandiose.

Atoll. Dexterity. Barrette. Marmalade.

Boisterously. Tribulations. Commendable...

And then there were two.

Fifth graders Zoe Wylam and Miguel Sebastian were the final contestants standing during Blair Pointe Upper Elementary School’s 2018 Spelling Bee.

The competition of letters took place in the school gym, with the entire fifth- and sixth-grade classes filling the bleachers on one side and families and teachers on the other.

In the middle, 26 students battled for the title of school’s best speller.

Blair Pointe Upper Elementary Teacher Diana Tschiniak announced each word. Prior to the official start, she conducted a practice round to “get the jitters out,” with simple ones such as hen, big and old.

Often, Tschiniak would add descriptions such as “near homonym,” “confused with a similar word,” or give the part of speech or definition.

Many of the children teetered, fiddled and fidgeted. Others were barely audible through the microphone as the competition took off.

The students in the bleachers, although similarly restless, remained quiet and respectful of their classmates.

Tobin Blong, who was adorned in mature spectacles, started each round. He strode up to the microphone with his hands in his pockets and confidently delivered each word – all the way up to last few rounds.

Some children locked their heels together and clasped their hands, and widened their expressions after successfully sputtering out the correct letters.

Others smiled nervously each time they approached the microphone.

Sebastian never blinked, taking his time to pronounce each letter clearly, loudly, and confidently – all the way up to the final round.

While Wylam looked a little nervous, she was consistent with each delivery.

By the fourth round, more challenging words like faucet and crooked began to eliminate students more quickly.

One student assigned chapel said “s,” a split second before saying “I mean…” – it happens to all of us!

Some of the now commonly-spoken words used in the competition would not have been heard in our own past spelling bees, such as tablet and compost.

When the seventh round rolled around, only five students remained.

Some of the words were sparsely, altitude, hoarsely, and disengage.

During the eighth round, Blong was given a word with “two or more correct spellings,” and he didn’t hesitate to give the judges both spellings of cipher/cypher.

“We have some studiers here, don’t we?” Tschiniak said.

Blong’s stellar skills landed him among the final three, but the two m’s in commendable knocked him out.

Then the pressure really set in for Wylam and Sebastian.

They faced off with words like boisterously and tribulations.

But the confusing vowels of fluorescent stumped Sebastian.

Now with even more pressure, Wylam eloquently spelled ricochet for the win.  

She immediately broke out into a relieved smile, and parents and faculty surrounded both finalists with hugs and congratulations.

“I’m very proud of all of our contestants, and I’m proud of the winners – I know they’ll represent the school well,” said Blair Pointe Elementary Principal Linda Watkins.

Both Wylam and Sebastian are fifth graders in Tschiniak’s class room, and are both enrolled in the gifted and talented program at Blair Pointe, she said.

Since Blair Pointe lost their spelling bee sponsor this year, young Wylam will be unable to attend the regional meet in Kokomo this year.

However, local teachers in Howard and Miami counties are hosting their own spelling bees to give the students another change to shine. Sebastian will serve as Wylam’s alternate.

Spelling bees are important because “it helps them build confidence and work on their study skills,” said Blair Pointe Upper Elementary Teacher Terri McCain, who coached the students during the spelling bee.   

McCain is working hard to find alternative routes to ensure that Wylam doesn’t miss out on the opportunity to compete in the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this year, she said.   

 Participated Students

Shelby Fregoso, Josh Baker, Hailey Cunningham, Thaddeus Raber, Mareiona Mason, Natalee Wilson, Zoe Wylam, Miguel Sebastian, Oasis Ambrose, Kamden Robertson, Bethany Ewer, Tanner Boggs, Kenyon Young, Alyssa Atkinson, Alannah Catt, Annalise Conner, Lily Wyatt, Candace Perez, Caleb Decker, Tobin Blong,  Madison Brimbury, Malachi Wolf, Braxton Strong,  Jayleb Walsh,Hayden Oldaker, and Eve Uttinger