The Unknown Spelling Bee Mystery


APRIL 22, 2014.  At nine o’clock in the morning on February 26, 2014, Friendship Blow Pierce went head-to-head, or in this case word-to-word, competing with many other schools from all over the district, for DC’s citywide Spelling Bee. It took about two and a half hours for the results of the overwhelming spelling bee rounds to cease, but the excitement was indeed worth it.

There were three students selected from each school—a first, second, and third place school finalist. I ranked first place as a school finalist, and two sixth graders stole second and third place only minutes following. Raycole Brewster won second place and Ronay Wells, third. We, the contestants, did have a month to study, but that did not matter too much.

The National Spelling Bee had other ideas in mind. In the beginning, we were all given a chance to be in the school spelling bee and then advance on to the Citywide Bee and then the National, with a first through eighth grade word list to study. But, they announced, right before the program began, that they would be using collegiate words from the Webster’s Dictionary. None of the words were at all any of the words that anyone studied or anticipated on being incorporated into the spelling bee list—not until the end, at least. I despised that moment. I felt so terrible, almost like I wished I had just given up and not been in the spelling bee in the first place. I studied so hard on the word packet given to me and if anyone were to test me, I would literally demolish them all. However, it was not known to me and Blow Pierce, and I was unable to stop it. The lesson learned: it is better to try and not succeed than to give up never knowing if you could have succeeded. Even if you may have something else that you would like to do, and even if you do not win, it is great to know the joy of the learning experience.

There were six final contestants for the next round, and sixth grader Racole, was in seventh place. Oh yes, he put up a fight for Blow Pierce to show that we are scholars and when it comes to learning we’re all fun and WORK! There were about ten more rounds to see who would be advancing to the next level between our fellow student Racole, and an eighth grader from another school. They were words many people have not seen or heard before and surely neither of the contestants saw it was going to end with a big bang of intensity.

The eighth grader from another school received seventh place. None of us were upset because we went down with our best intentions and our strongest fighting techniques (for words). When we arrived back at school we were happy and all hyped up for the Black History Trivia Bowl! More learning and more fun!

Sadeeqa Shahbaaz is an 8th grade scholar at Friendship Blow Pierce Academy.