Back in the fifth grade, I was my school’s spelling bee champion. (I can’t tell you what my winning word was, largely because I can’t remember it. It’s sort of a blur to me.) My certificate – in spite of things thrown at it – still hangs on my living room wall. To date, it’s been one of my greatest accomplishments.
Along with winning the people’s ovation and fame forever (wait, no, that’s if I defeated an Iron Chef, and I didn’t), I went on to my district bee. After my mother taking me to the wrong school – there were two middle schools in the same region, and she took me to the wrong one – I faced two adversaries: not only the words themselves, but a terrible announcer. I got through the first round (the word degrading) before falling in the second round (entomologist – a word I would have gotten, had I heard it as “entomologist” and not “etymologist”).
While the end of my spelling bee championship run ended with a bad taste in my mouth (though there was no way I was moving on past districts), and sixth grade saw no success on the spelling bee front (I got through the first three or four rounds of my English class’s spelling bee, including impressing my English teacher by spelling “handkerchief” – I believe what she said after I got it right was, “You should never spell another word wrong in my class again”), my love for spelling bees has never died. The National Spelling Bee finals holds a great place in my heart, as it’s a chance to relive my childhood dream (or at least Burton Guster’s) of winning the Spelling Bee and just to show how good a speller I am. I’m generally good for only two or three correct spellings during the finals – the words there are generally ridiculously hard – but I enjoy it nonetheless.
Spelling bees have led to multiple movies (at least Akeelah and the Bee and Bee Season, which incidentally came out the same year, the former being more popular) and one of the more interesting Broadway musicals, showing that spelling bees aren’t just for kids anymore – or at least, that kids can be pandered to with fun and inspiring stories about spelling bees.
And, if there need be any further explanation, this: