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June 2, 2012

Kids had to spell words in contest that my spell check didn't recognize

Daily Star

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Spelling bees are filled with interesting facts about words and generate dramatic and exciting moments.

And technology has made the Scripps National Spelling Bee more accessible.

This week, I was eager to know how The Daily Star's contestant, Kristin Ratliff, 14, of Cooperstown, was doing. The bee, held near Washington, D.C., was held from Tuesday to Thursday. From the bee's website, I found out quickly after Round Two on Wednesday morning that she had successfully spelled "quonk."

Her accomplishment was happy news that made me eager to find about her next challenge. I wasn't able to watch it live on ESPN2, but Twitter told me what I really wanted to know. I couldn't see Kristin's face or hear the pronouncer say "cubitiere" at 3:50 p.m., but I knew within seconds that she had been successful in bee Round Three on Wednesday afternoon.

I needed an extra-big dictionary to look up those two words.

Kristen said she didn't score well enough on Tuesday's spelling test to qualify for semifinals Thursday. Here's a partial list of the words on that test: Doxic, somnial, urbicarian, pogonotomy, dubitante, ejido, tomalley, semelparous, anemochore, Thucydidean, neomenia, chitarrone, outrecuidance and quelea. Most of these words aren't in my computer's spell-check program.

The bee website also presented biographies of the students, including if siblings had competed in previous years. Details about bee history and statistics about participants were interesting, and some of the contestants names could be as challenging to pronounce or spell as bee words. For instance, from Twitter came the following news: "Speller 152, Eboseremhen Eigbe, spells 'exophthalmic' correctly in Round Three of the Bee."

And being a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was captivated to know that she misspelled "xanthophyll" in an 1880s community spelling match.

Spelling is more than the letters that comprise the word.

Food donations continued to be made weeks after a fundraising event, Fashion for Food, in April, an organizer said recently.

About 40 students with faculty from the State University College at Oneonta and three local businesses to organize the fashion show at the Elk's Club in Oneonta on April 15. Admission was by donation of nonperishable food items or a contribution in cash or by check, and contributions benefited St. Mary's Church Food Pantry in Oneonta.

Local businesses supporting the show were clothing store Transitions Boutique, Edward Teleky Jewelers and Barbara Ungerland's Arbonne International, a seller of cosmetics. The show also was a service-learning project for the college students.

About 20 people attended the show, which raised about $180, Rolana Starr Hobb, a professor in the human ecology department at SUNY Oneonta, said recently. Easter and scheduling issues were factors leading to numbers below hoped-for totals, she said, but the overall project was a valuable learning experience in organizing, presenting and promoting an event.

And interest was generated to organize the event next year, with some changes, including having the show on campus, Hobb said.

The outdoor swimming season has arrived.

Frank Russo, executive director of the Oneonta Family YMCA, has issued a reminder to children and adults about safe practices in and around water.

The Oneonta Family Y, in recognition of National Water Safety Month in May, recommended:

* Only swim when and where a lifeguard is on duty.

* If multiple adults are in the vicinity of swimming activity, name one as a designated "water watcher" so everyone knows who is "on duty."

* Adults with children who are non-swimmers or beginning level swimmers should be in the water within arm's reach of the youngster.

* Inexperienced swimmers should wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

* Children and adults shouldn't engage in breath-holding activities in the water.

The Oneonta Y offers swim programs for a variety of skills and ages. For more information, call 432-0010.

Denise Richardson can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 213, or at