Thirty-seven students from Tuolumne County primary schools navigated words like zabaglione, abacus, juror, alkaloid, arsenic and imperturbable at the 45th annual Dr. June McOmber Junior High Spelling Bee at Curtis Creek Elementary School Wednesday night, but one 7th grade Connections Academy student came out on top after about 45 minutes.
“Maneuver” was the word that earned Jonah Fowler the victory, said Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Cathy Parker.
“It's a good feeling to know you're good at something. There's a sense of pride in that,” Parker said. “They’re recognized for having a skill. There needs to be more of that.”
Parker acted as “Spelling Master” during the event, which involved reading the word out loud, reading it in a sentence and reading it out loud again.
The competition was not typical in that it was not oral, Parker said.
The participants, 7th through 9th graders from Belleview Elementary, Columbia Elementary, Connections Visual and Performing Arts Academy, Curtis Creek Elementary, Sonora Elementary, Summerville High, Tenaya Elementary and Tioga High, are given 15 seconds to write the word correctly on a sheet of paper.
“Even though in this day and age spell check, spelling is a way of communicating words and communicating ideas. Knowing how to spell opens up a world of being able to communicate more fully with people,” Parker said she told the students.
After each word, judges would walk the rows of students to determine if the word was spelled correctly. After four incorrect answers, a student would no longer be eligible to win the competition.
After 30 minutes, about 30 students were ineligible, Parker said.
The final words came down to third place Sabrina Silos, 8th grade of Connections Academy; second place Rebecca Lindenberg, 7th grade of Belleview Elementary School; and Fowler.
Fowler and Lindenberg will represent Tuolumne County at a state spelling bee held in Marin County on May 2.
The spelling bee is named for Dr. June McOmber, a former program specialist at TCSOS who founded the spelling bee in 1975.
The spelling bee was named for her after she and another TCSOS program specialist, Karen Bakerville Smith, died in a car accident while driving back to Merced in 1979, Parker said.
Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @g_ricapito