Sleeping in and Saturday cartoons were probably far from the minds of 19 local students who competed at this weekend’s 12th annual regional spelling bee. And while Buddy Noorlander of Oneonta Middle School was the day’s big winner, parents, teachers and organizers said it was a rewarding experience for all of the participants.
The contest, sponsored by the Otis A. Thompson Foundation, Amphenol Corp., SUNY Oneonta, the SUNY Oneonta Science Discovery Center and The Daily Star, began at 10 a.m. Saturday. As the 19 middle-schoolers took the stage in SUNY Oneonta’s Goodrich Theatre to show off their spelling skills through 11 intense rounds, many in the audience, who came from Delaware, Otsego, Chenango and Madison counties, spoke about the positive experience that the bee provided.
Emily Brown, who made it to the fifth round, was cheered on from the front row by her aunt Amy Brown. Emily had been nervous on the ride to Oneonta, Brown said, so she reinforced to the Downsville Central School seventh-grader how exciting it was to have made it this far.
“I told her she’s already a superstar! This has given her a broader understanding of spelling,” Brown said, “but it has just been an overall good experience for her and good practice public speaking. I’ve noticed a change in her confidence.”
This observation rings true for other participants as well, who each won their respective school’s competition, said Stacie Haynes, DCMO BOCES enrichment coordinator. Haynes, who organized the spelling bee, said it provides an opportunity for students to shine academically, while allowing them to work on their confidence and public speaking skills.
“It’s something positive to focus on and work for,” Haynes said.
Afton Central School’s Calixta Terrell, a seventh-grader, said she knows how to spell “a lot more words” than she did when she first started preparing. Terrell was one of three students who battled it out near the end of the competition, during which her spelling of “Islamic” and “hustings” helped her hang on to the eighth round.