On 24 May, students at RAHS will participate in the first spelling bee hosted by the school. Currently, preliminary rounds are being held weekly on Mondays for underclassmen and Thursdays for upperclassmen.
The spelling bee is organized by senior and ASB Vice-President Yasin Ali-Halane and will be held in the same format as the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“You have contestants and they walk up to a microphone. There is a panel of judges and they give them a word and from that word the contestant can ask for definition, language of origin, use in a sentence, whatever,” said Ali-Halane. “That student is expected to spell the word, if they spell it correctly continue on, if they get it incorrect then you’re out.”
The spelling bee got its origins in a suggestion to Ali-Halane for a project.
“I was assigned a task at the start of Leadership, actually last semester before this semester started, of potentially running a spelling bee,” said Ali-Halane. “I started doing planning, talking to teachers about locations, [sending] out surveys to gage interest.”
Ali-Halane has high hopes for the spelling bee and thinks it will fit the culture of the school very well.
“Kids at our school are pretty competitive from what I’ve seen in my four years here,” said Ali-Halane. “I think it gives kids another opportunity to show off their skills.”
Students are participating in the spelling bee for a number of reasons. Freshman Isabelle Meboe, for example, is passionate about orthography.
“I want be in the spelling bee because I love articulate diction and this is an opportunity for me to learn new words,” said Meboe.
Sophomore Kristina Chen on the other hand has always found the fun of the competition to be her favorite part.
“I personally want to be in the spelling bee because it’s a fun event,” said Chen. “I also enjoy learning new words and the thrill of the competition.”
Some of the major challenge in preparing for the spelling bee are the words that aren’t necessarily spelled the way they sound, coupled with the pressure of having to spell them out in front of a crowd.
“The biggest challenge they are going to face is that a lot of the words on the list are tough words, where maybe it’s pronounced a certain way but the way that you sound it out gives you a different guideline for spelling the actual word,” said Ali-Halane. “So that’s the toughest thing they are going to face, just confusion on how something is spelled versus how something sounds phonetically.”
Nick Tran, one of the participating in the spelling bee, feels the same way as Ali-Halane.
“The whole challenge of a spelling bee is to be able to visualize the word and it’s spelling correctly in your head,” said Tran. “I’m a great speller through typing and writing, but I’m terrible at visualizing it without the whole word laid out in front of me.”
Stage fright also seems to be a major inhibitor to the confidence of the contestants, who anticipated that the crowd might make them nervous.
“I have tremendous stage fright,” said Meboe, “so that alone could cause me to spell a word or words incorrectly during the spelling bee.”
Tran also believes that stage fright will get to the participants, causing them to make mistakes they otherwise would not have made.
“I’m sure stage fright will pop up,” said Tran. “Nervousness will get the better of some otherwise amazing spellers.”
At the end of the preliminary rounds, scores will be counted and finalists will be chosen.
“At the end we will go through and figure out which students are going to the final and that’s going to be in front of the whole school in the BPC,” said Ali-Halane. “That’s the big one, that’s the one you want to go to.”