To Bee or Not to Bee?
14 July 2017
As the school bell rang on the morning of Thursday 13th July, a feeling of anticipation gripped the staff and pupils of St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School. It was the kind of excitement only brought on by the annual spelling bee. A point-building Last Man Standing competition had taken place earlier in the day, and having amassed 25 points in that round, Lawrence were in the lead, but Clitherow and Southwell were hot on their heels with 20 points apiece.
Controversy had already rocked the school following the morning’s Last Man Standing competition, with a dispute over how to spell ‘mesmerize’, was it indeed spelled with a ‘z’, or was an ‘s’ also valid? With doubt having been thrown over the best speller in the year, and thus no team having the psychological advantage of their presence on the team, it was all to play for going into the final.
Mrs Payne prefaced the final with a speech about the importance of spelling, her artistic prowess on display as she clutched a handmade sign reading ‘Bad Spellers of the World Untie’ – no, she hadn’t forgotten her spectacles – it was her idea of a joke.
The final kicked off at breakneck speed with ‘scholastic’, and with two minutes allowed for each team of four, the pressure was piled on, and the wheat was quickly cut from the chaff.
The teams were afforded the decision of whether to play it safe and try to spell 1-point words – the easiest – or challenge themselves with 3-point words – far more difficult. Most teams, however took the middle-road, opting to spell 2-point words, the likes of which included: ‘dynamo’, ‘extradite’ and ‘hallucinate’. Tricky!
As the final progressed, the most accomplished spellers advanced, while others passed and missed out on points. When the final team – Southwell – took to the microphone, the nervousness in the room was palpable, and more than a few audience members held their breath as the final seconds of the competition ticked away on the huge clock on stage.
With ‘blanket’ the final concluded, and the war-weary competitors retreated to their seats.
Given the scandal of the morning’s competition, the two finalists – Josh and Jess – were then asked to return to the microphone for a final display of spelling excellence. Fierce battle commenced, with ‘diagram’ being following by ‘difficult’ and ‘dimple’ being followed by ‘disease’. Both competitors fought valiantly, but at ‘aficionado’ Josh was unable to continue, and Jess claimed the victory.
The team’s points were totalled and Mr Dumican took to the stage. Before announcing the results, he thanked Mrs Lomiiko, Mrs Taylor and the rest of the English department for organising the Bee and then it was time to announce the results.
3rd with 49 – Mayne
2nd with 52 – Almond
1st with 62 – Gennings
By guest reporter, Oliver Kneale