Ladies and Gentlemen, Students, Teachers and Parents,
Welcome to our 2nd Annual Championship Spelling Bee at Total Brainworks Group of Schools! We are very proud of our student spellers and their accomplishments.
Firstly, let me tell you a bit of history about the Bee. That word itself comes from an American custom. With a different meaning from our usual buzzing understanding of it. Here, also a noun, meaning a “get-together” that waits for the work of the verb in front of it, example: a husking bee, a quilting bee, an apple bee. You might then sit in a circle, with others, husking corn, or with that same group of friends or neighbors, quilt and/or sew, or core apples and make apple pies. For our purposes we come together at this bee to do spelling, to spell.
The first documented contest was in 1825. It would be a century later that the first official National Spelling Bee took place. Sponsored by a newspaper, the finals were held in America’s capital city, Washington D.C., with nine finalists. This contest was won by Frank Neuhauserat the tender age of eleven and his winning word wasgladiolus. A beautiful word which any wordsmith worth their salt knows is a flower, from the iris family, that has sword shaped leaves, from Latin -gladius for sword. From that welcoming word thus began the ritual of the annual spelling bee.
Fun Facts: The official dictionary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee is Webster New International Dictionary which contains about 473,000 words at present for the students to potentially have to spell. In the history of the Scripps National Spelling Bee the most common word used in the competition is “connoisseur. From 1943 to 1945 there was no National Spelling Bee due to World War II. Winning words have included: laodicean, luge, therapy, croissant, milieu, lyceum, kamikaze, antediluvian, chiaroscurist, logorrhea, Purim, and knack. Eleven of the fifteen bee winners since 1999 have been Americans of Indian descent. There has only been one non-American winner, and that was a Jamaican contestant.
Words are the brimming, combusting, necessary little engines of language. They give life to our writing, our poetry, our jokes and conversation, our dialogs written and recited. They are its heartbeat and blood enlivened that ochre ink coursing through our transmissions. Language is alive, it grows and shrinks. It sloughs off old words, or changes their meanings to better suit the times. We have engineered a list of words here that hail from all languages: brand new and ancient, east and west, north and south, we have words from Latin, Greek, Hindi, French and Old English.
The students who are here, along with their parents too, have taken up the challenge to learn language. They are brave, fearless even. As teacher Stephanie, our Bee Master put it well: “This event teaches students much more than the spelling of exotic words. These youngsters develop strong study habits. They learn to set and achieve long-term goals. Through multiple eliminating and non-eliminating rounds, they have learned to be graceful and to be sportsmanlike, whether they win or lose. Most importantly, they acquire a deep sense of achievement and pride in their accomplishment. Without the active participation and achievement of students and parents, this event would not become the event it has become, so we thank you, we applaud you.”
The quest to pin down language, trace word roots, find meaning, refine meaning, is as old as all language itself. This has been and is the mark and task of scholars from all ages and those to come. Increasing your word usage, the act of searching out words and defining them, then knowing and using them properly, is a pursuit not just for schooling, but for educational enlightenment itself. Betterment. I’ll close this short history with a plea for us to gather and join in our own spelling bee. So that we may grow to know more. Enjoy your search, your defining, and your ability to learn. This one is for word power.