Twenty-six finalists headed to Norristown Area High School in Montgomery County on March 15 to compete in the 65th Annual Times Herald Spelling Bee—and one came out the winner: Spring-Ford Intermediate School’s Ashrya Ananthanarayanan, a 7th grader.
That evening it finally came down to her and McKinley Elementary School’s David Ghalil. They went head-to-head, successfully spelling their way through such words as braggadocio, paparazzo, gesundheit, maraschino, and arbitrage. Who’d win? Up to that point, it was a toss-up especially when Ashrya fell short on parochialism –and then so did David. Same thing happened with flexuosity. It was a nail biter to the very end, when, finally, Bethesda and prevaricate brought the trophy home to her.
That prize is now displayed at Ashrya’s school, and she’s received a Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a $100 savings bond, a $100 cash award, and a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online. She also gets to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in D.C. being held 68 days from now, May 28 to June 1.
So, if by now you’re wishing you and your kids had had front row seats at Norristown High last Friday to witness this one-of-a-kind contest, you actually have a second chance of sorts. That’s because it will be broadcast on NASD TV (Comcast channel 28 and Verizon channel 45) on the following dates and times:
- Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m.
- Saturday, March 23 at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Be sure to tune in with your whole family, showcasing the importance of spelling to your children and inspiring them to follow suit. And then build on it with them by . . .
- Convincing them to keep on writing when unsure of a word’s spelling, instead circling it and checking on it later, so thoughts are not disrupted.
- Explaining that when proofreading their essays, misspellings are more easily spotted by reading the piece backward from the last word to the first, so there’s no distracting content and punctuation to contend with at the same time.
- Seeing that they create a personal dictionary, a one-letter heading on each page. Stored in their binder, misspellings can be noted along the way on, easily referenced, and, thus, not repeated.
- Helping them invent spelling mnemonics for troublesome words. These memory aids, such as “There’s a rat in separate,” and “Strawberry shortcake is for dessert,” lock in the correct spelling of words.
- Having them “hear” the way words are actually written, not spoken. This way every letter is accounted for, as in “choc-o-late,” la-sag-na,” and “en-vi-ron-ment.”
- Discouraging over-reliance on the computer’s spell checker which its limitations, such as being unable to differentiate between then and than, through and threw.
And should you ever be asked to proofread an essay, instead of making all the corrections yourself, simply place a light checkmark next to each line that contains an error, one check for each that you find. That way, you’re pointing out mistakes not fixing them, leaving that instead for later repair and learning by your child.
Then pull out games like Scrabble on family night, and encourage such online games as the Spiderman Spelling Game and kidsspell.com’s offerings for every level, such as Spellasaurus, Scramblers, and Defenders.
Make it happen and, who knows, maybe the next child holding that spelling bee trophy will be yours.