Spelling Bee entrants’ poise beyond words

Daily Journal

Most of us rely on spell-check to catch spelling errors, and we’d be petrified standing in front of a room full of strangers while putting our spelling skills to the test.

But that’s just what nearly two dozen youngsters did last week.

Twenty-one of the county’s top spellers vied to be champion at the Johnson County Spelling Bee at Creekside Elementary School in Franklin. Participants were third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who won spelling bees at their respective Johnson County schools plus the winner of the home-school bee. The spelling bee was co-sponsored by the Daily Journal and the Franklin Community Teachers Association.

Jennifer McColpin, fourth-grader at Creekside Elementary School, emerged the champion and will move on to a regional competition. Runner-up was Emmaly Taylor, a fifth-grader at Custer Baker Intermediate School in Franklin.

Spelling bees have been around for generations, but the skills children master remain vital today. Contestants don’t just memorize lists of words, they learn to concentrate and think on their feet.

Take Jennifer, last week’s winner. Presented with a word like “ceiling,” she asked for a definition. She asked for the words “openness” and “whittle” to be repeated. In each case, it gave her time to think and make sure she had the letter order down right.

Then she slowly and methodically spelled each word.

When runner-up Emmaly Taylor missed “obsidian,” Jennifer spelled it correctly. She was given “ostrich,” which she spelled correctly for the win.

Jennifer said she had seen the winning word at least five times when studying. When “ostrich,” came up, she was confident she would spell it correctly, she said.

“I spelled it slowly and thought about it,” she said.

In an age of near-frantic texting and online posting, taking time to think about what you’re actually writing is good advice.

We congratulate Jennifer on capturing the county title. But we also commend all of the competitors. You all are champions, and the skills you learned in the process will benefit you for the rest of your lives.

At issue

Most people are unwilling to put their spelling skills on public display.

Our point

Competitors in this year’s Johnson County Spelling Bee learned about confidence and composure as well as vocabulary and spelling.