A word ‘aficionado’ wins Middle School spelling bee

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Zach Wyatt, who won the Middle School Spelling Bee, is flanked by Abbie Smith, left, and Logan Thomas. Zach Wyatt, who won the Middle School Spelling Bee, is flanked by Abbie Smith, left, and Logan Thomas.

Competition is back after 10 years

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — More than 600 people turned out for the Middle Township Middle School Spelling Bee, a mixture of proud parents and supportive middle school students.

The Performing Arts Center at the Middle Township High School was packed, with only a scattering of empty seats.

On stage, and under spotlights, 28 nervous middle school students waited their turn to spell words like "piety," "histrionics," and "netiquette." The crowd roared each time a student correctly spelled an especially difficult word, or cheered a student's best, though incorrect, effort.

In the end, Zach Wyatt, 8th grade, won the bee by correctly spelling "aficionado," meaning a person who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about an activity. Coming in second was Abbie Smith, sixth grade. Logan Thomas, 7th grade, took third.

Zach will now study to compete at the South Jersey Regional Spelling Bee on March 22 at Galloway Township Middle School. The Galloway Spelling Bee leads up to the The Scripps National Spelling Bee, which takes place May 25 to 31 in Washington, D.C.

This was the first spelling bee held at the middle school in more than a decade.

“I know that it's been at least 10 years since Middle has been able to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” said Connie Chabok, Literary Supervisor Middle Township Middle School. “We've done some in-house bees, but we haven't been part of the national bee in quite a while.”

It was an anonymous sponsor that made it possible for the middle school to participate this year. Chabok said schools can't register for the Scripps Bee unless they have a sponsor to guarantee a regional champion's passage to the final contest in Washington, D.C.

“An anonymous donor stepped forward for Atlantic and Cape May counties, and Scripps allowed us to register late for the bee,” Chabok said.

That worked out well for the young people who worked hard over the last few weeks preparing for the bee. Some students studied at home. Others brought their lists of words to the bee, pouring over the practice words until the last minute.

“I studied for about two weeks with my mom and dad,” said Zach. After correctly spelling aficionado to win the bee, Zach clinched it by spelling “sapphire.”

“I'd seen sapphire on my study guide,” he said. “I was pretty confident I'd get that one right.”

Glenn Wyatt, Zach's father, was in the crowd to cheer on his son. He said that he and his wife, Nicole, spent a lot of time helping their children get ready for the bee.

“We went over the study guide with Zach and his sister, Delaney, every night,” Glenn said. “I'm very proud of them both.”

Delaney, 6th grade, was also part of the spelling bee.

While the path to the end of the spelling bee was straightforward, the battle for third place turned into a nail-biter, rousing the crowd into a steady chorus of cheers as Lee Ann Kane, school nurse and pronouncer, read out words like “bazooka,” “juxtapose” and “smithereens” to challenge the young spellers. Finally, Logan clinched the third place position by correctly spelling “unctuous.”

Every one of the nearly 600 students in the middle school was eligible to participate in the bee, said Toni Johnson, principal.

“These were the top 28 spellers in the school,” she said.

Shanina Price was proud of her daughter, Antwanet, 7th grade, and the youth’s participation in the bee.

“I came here to support her,” Shanina said. “My daughter likes to read a lot, and I think that spelling helps broaden her education.”

Trophies for the top three spellers were provided by Parents Active With School, or PAWS. The group also awarded $50 gift card to Walmart to Zach for first place.

“This was a very exciting spelling bee,” Chabok said. “I was proud to see how seriously the students took the bee.”

 

The 28 Top Spellers

8th Grade: Zack Miller, Savannah Jack, Alyssa Napolitano, Steven Burner, Johnny Diep, Zyair Stull, Zach Wyatt, Rafael Rodriguez, Mizani Muhammad, Matthew Linkewicz

7th Grade: Yoko Cheng, Christian Alvarez, Madeline Byrne, Antwanet Price, Nick Gibboni, Logan Thomas, Maniah Cooper, Richard Schubert, Elijah Gayle, Xavier Eagan, Christopher Champion

6th Grade: David Tzorfas, Samantha Taylor, Abbie Smith, Mia Watts, Naomi Aigbogan, John Hargest, Delaney Wyatt

Participants in the Middle School Spelling Bee were challenged by words like “quaver,” “matriculation” and “bulbous.” Participants in the Middle School Spelling Bee were challenged by words like “quaver,” “matriculation” and “bulbous.”

Zach Wyatt, 8th grade, won the Middle School Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “aficionado.” Zach Wyatt, 8th grade, won the Middle School Spelling Bee by correctly spelling “aficionado.”

The Middle School Spelling Bee, held Feb. 26, was a battle of wits, knowledge, words and nerves that went on for nearly two hours. The Middle School Spelling Bee, held Feb. 26, was a battle of wits, knowledge, words and nerves that went on for nearly two hours.

Logan Thomas, 7th grade, accepts her trophy for third place from Connie Chabok, Literacy Supervisor, in the Middle School Spelling Bee. Logan Thomas, 7th grade, accepts her trophy for third place from Connie Chabok, Literacy Supervisor, in the Middle School Spelling Bee.

Abbie Smith, 6th grade, took second place in this year’s Middle School Spelling Bee. Shown above, she accepts her award from Connie Chabok, Literacy Supervisor. Abbie Smith, 6th grade, took second place in this year’s Middle School Spelling Bee. Shown above, she accepts her award from Connie Chabok, Literacy Supervisor.

Nearly 600 Middle School students were eligible for the bee. Above are the top 28 spellers at Middle School. Nearly 600 Middle School students were eligible for the bee. Above are the top 28 spellers at Middle School.


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