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Spellers abuzz over bee event

One student got disappointed about misspelling the word tutu. Another flubbed "earthenware." But it was just the practice round, and ultimately no child was left behind.

Still, at the end of this year's annual spelling bee at Latham Ridge Elementary School, only one student in each grade got to move on to the districtwide bee to be held Friday, Feb. 6, at the Shaker High School auditorium from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The students heading to the district event are fourth-grader Ryan Kelley, fifth-grader Dong-Seop Eah and sixth-grader Omari Lewis. Lewis not only took the title for the sixth grade, but outspelled the rest of the school as well.

During the Latham Ridge bee, 18 students were read words chosen randomly off a list created by Scripps Howard, a national organization. Words range in difficulty from "chocolate" to "leucoryx."

The rules about who would get to move on to the district level bee were somewhat different this year, according to Latham Ridge Principal James Martin.

"In the old rules, if there were two people standing at the end, if one of them spelled the word wrong, the other would have to spell that word correctly and then their own word correctly," Martin said.

This year, students only needed to spell their own words correctly.

According to the district's Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Joseph Corr, three to four students will move on from the district level to compete in a regional bee to be held at Proctors in Schenectady later in the year.

Corr said it is quite an accomplishment to make it to the regional level.

"There are a lot of challenging words," he said. "There are all sorts of strategies that the kids use, like having the word repeated used in sentence."

Corr said that students who are good spellers use the hints that are given by announcers, such as the part of speech the word is and the origin of the word, as clues to help them decipher the spelling.

According to Martin, "Spelling is a skill that either you have it or you don't. Some kids just have photographic memories."

Martin believes that spelling is a skill that has recently begun falling by the wayside due to technological advances, such as spell checkers on word-processing programs.

But Kelley, Eah and Lewis will not have access to spell check as they make their way onto the stage of Shaker High School to put their spelling skills to work.""

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