On Feb. 2, 116 students from 66 districts gathered to compete in the 34th Annual Capital Region Spelling Bee held at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, New York. Competition was strong and the students came poised and prepared to spell words from "mathematics," "transect" and "tortilla" to "schipperke" and "pfeffernuss," which during the final round were volleyed back and forth effortlessly.
"It was wonderful to witness this particular group of spellers, especially in their preparedness and readiness for the competition,â€� said Dr. Linda A. Rudnick, pronouncer and retired Albany City School District assistant superintendent for elementary education. "Many students and their families arrived up to an hour before the Bee, study lists in hand, looking at words they could study one last time! And during the event, more than ever, spellers asked many smart questions germane to determining the correct spelling of very challenging words.â€�
The Bee lasted eight oral spelling rounds followed by the final round. During this time, Brianna Vottis from Guilderland Central School District correctly spelled "blitzkrieg." For Katie Sumner from Niskayuna school district, it was "flense." "Manifesto" was next for Greater Amsterdam Schools' Matthew Murphy. Each triumphed to move on to the next round.
In the end, it came down to Red Hook Central School District eighth-grader Alexandra Snyder, who correctly spelled "validity" to win. Snyder received a number of prizes, including an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 22-27, 2016.
"Special congratulations to Alexandra, our representative this year
at the National Bee who was a formidable competitor to our two-time
regional champion, Lydia Loverin,â€� said Rudnick. "These young ladies
were awe-inspiring in the final 20 minutes of the Bee, where
they battled for the top seat with incredibly difficult words that they handled with skill, grace and ease. Truly wonderful."
The year's Bee was different from those of years past, in particular last year's, which had spellers in oral competition for a solid seven hours. The Spelling Bee committee* spent the better part of this year planning for Feb. 2 and mapping out how to align the Regional Bee more closely with the National Spelling Bee experience.
"We strengthened the competition this year by incorporating written spelling and vocabulary preliminary rounds in an effort to model the total competition experience at the national level,â€� said Dr. Lori V. Quigley, dean, Esteves School of Education, The Sage Colleges. "Capital region spellers adapted quite well to this change.â€�
Among the changes to this year's Bee were a 1 p.m. start and written spelling and vocabulary tests that combined to determine students' overall scores. Every student participated in two rounds of oral spelling on stage. A student who misspelled a word in either of those two rounds was eliminated.
After the second round, scores from the remaining students were ranked and the top 25 students moved on to the third round, including ties. Twenty-nine spellers took the stage for the third round this year.
All 116 students shone brightly on Feb. 2, and both parent and district pride were ever-present.
For more information about the Capital Region Spelling Bee, visit our Bee Webpage.
*The Spelling Bee Planning Committee: Nancy Jones, chairperson; Brooks Brown, Tim Burke, Nicole Graf, Lori V. Quigley, Linda Rudnick, Greg Stapleton and Rachel Yamin.
Top right: Greg Stapleton addressing the audience and spellers prior to the start of competition.
Second right: Spellers in their seats just before the Bee gets underway.
Third right: Lydia Loverin, 2014 and 2015 Capital Region Spelling Bee champion.
Bottom right: Alexandra Snyder, 2016 Capital Region Spelling Bee champion.