By Joe CastagnaFELLSMERE – Fourth and fifth grade students at Fellsmere Elementary put their spelling skills to the test in the school’s annual spelling bee, tackling such words as “necessary,” “dejected,” “ominous,” and “filament.”
Fellsmere Mayor Susan Adams was on-hand as one of three judges – though she admits she is not a very good speller herself.
“I mostly rely on spell check,” the mayor admitted. “Some of the kids did much better than I would have.”
The other two judges were Mrs. Marceleno who is a teacher at the school and Sandy Gehrke Riverside Bank’s vice president who “adopted” the school.
Mrs. Beth Lieberman, the school wide writing coach, organized the spelling bee, which consisted of five rounds.
The students were all asked one word per round, allowed to ask for definitions and to ask that the word be repeated only once.
Fellsmere Elementary has a growing reputation for excellence, as all of its students received on or above average scores on their Florida Writes test, despite the school’s 97 percent bilingual student population.
Students handled the competition differently – some would go up to the microphone, spell the word, and then sit back down. Others hesitated a little bit, stumbling with the letters, starting over and pausing from time to time.
After the first five rounds there ended up being a 3-way tiebreaker between two fifth graders and a fourth grader.
The three students were asked two words each. Once they missed one, they where eliminated.
It took three tiebreakers to finally name a winner – who received a special first place certificate, a blue ribbon, and a Webster’s pocket library including a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a book with commonly misspelled words, to help with studying for the regional Spelling Bee.
The second place finisher received a Webster’s thesaurus and a ribbon. And the third place finisher received a ribborn.
After the winners were announced the rest of the students in the bee all received certificates of participation. The students in the audience were thanked for their excellent behavior and for respecting their friends while they competed.
For Mayor Adams, judging the spelling bee was akin to coming home, as she had attended Fellsmere Elementary as a child.
“Surprisingly it is mostly the same,” she said. “The school is still excellent. It’s a little bigger now. I always enjoy coming back here.”