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GannettUSA Today

Monday, March 05, 2007


Spelldown 2007, which starts its two-night run at Monmouth University tonight, is more than just a contest. It gives 97 of the region's top spellers - from grades 4 through 8 - a chance to show how well young people can perform under pressure. Standing up on the stage of a college theater before an audience of at least 200 and then spelling a word that's probably not in your daily vocabulary is not easy.

Detractors say spelling bees are just memorization competitions. After all, they prepare from study lists. Having judged the contests sponsored by the Press and Home News Tribune since 1989, I can assure critics the champion must do much more than that. We had one year when the cream rose to the top and the final spellers obviously had great memories. But when the next set of words came from the unabridged dictionary, the contest is quickly over. "That word wasn't in the study book,'' the soon-to-be runner-up said. Correct. The other speller combined his knowledge of language and how words are constructed and was crowned champion.

Composure, poise, discipline, intelligence. Call it whatever you like. These youngsters have it - and deserve credit for displaying it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the blonde girl that won last year going to compete again? That kid had so much class.

4:43 AM, March 06, 2007  

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