A group of about two dozen elementary and middle school students walked onto the stage at Carl Wunsche Sr. High School on Wednesday, each one hoping that by the end of the evening they would be standing all alone.
These students were testing their skills at the 2022 Spring ISD Spelling Bee, where words like “misconception,” “hodgepodge” and “windbaggery” were met with furrowed eyebrows by students along with a few of the audience members.
Last year, the event was held online due to safety concerns from the COVID pandemic. But this year, Tiffany McQuaig-Wallace, a middle school English language arts and reading curriculum specialist, said that she was happy to see the community be able to gather and share in the excitement as a group.
“It was wonderful to actually see our parents, teachers and administrators out in the audience cheering on these students as they competed. To come back to this in-person event this year, it was absolutely magical,” said McQuaig-Wallace.
Chimaobi Ezekwem, a student at The School of International Studies at Bammel, finished in second place and will serve as an alternate for the next round of competitions. He got off to a rocky start when he misspelled a word during a practice round before the competition started.
“At first I started getting nervous, but then I realized that if I’m nervous it wouldn’t help me so I started to calm myself down, and started to spell the words correctly,” said Ezekwem.
Ezekwem’s ability to overcome his anxiety is one of the many benefits that Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Workforce Development Matthew Pariseau said the Spelling Bee experience brings to students.
“While spelling bees can be lots of fun through the competitions, they also help expand our vocabulary, thinking skills, self-confidence and communications skills and they help the competitor’s ability to thrive under pressure,” Pariseau said.
Dylan Jackson from Northgate Crossing Elementary School, also handled the pressure, as he correctly spelled “dim sum,” to take the first place trophy.
“I was so happy. I was like, finally, I had that anxiety off my shoulders and I also know that if I take this medal and trophy to school, I’ll get a bag of chips and two cookies. My friend said that he would give me a bag of chips and two cookies if I won,” said Jackson, adding that while he was excited about the cookies, he still preferred his champion trophy. Jackson added that his biggest motivation was to make his mom, dad and teacher proud.
Superintendent Dr. Lupita Hinojosa was proud of the students as well, as she congratulated the competitors and thanked the parents for working so hard to help their children. She told them that she was happy that they have chosen to educate their children in Spring ISD.
The two top finishers will now go to the first round of the Regional Houston Public Media Spelling Bee. The two top competitors from the second round of that area contest will travel to the 2022 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in the Washington D.C. area.