The spellers were nervous. And who could blame them? Approximately two dozen 4th and 5th graders lined up on a stage with a gymnasium filled with their peers, parents, and grandparents sitting behind them.
In an age of spell check and auto correct, it’s a wonder anyone can spell any more. And yet these 4th and 5th graders could and did, beating out the rest of their peers to get to this competition.
Before the spelling bee began, rigid rules were announced, and then the fun began. One by one, a mix of boys and girls, short and tall, marched up to the microphone to spell the assigned word. “Amplify, colonists, equator, obstacle, and fiercest” were just a few of the words to tackle.
Despite reminders to the students in the audience to remain quiet, their excitement could hardly be contained. As the line to the microphone grew shorter, there were muffled cheers of relief when a favorite friend nailed it, and suppressed sighs of disappointment when one did not. For 16 rounds the suspense intensified until at long last, a winner was declared.
What was remarkable about this event was that it was not a mesmerizing video game, a phone app, or the latest Disney movie, but rather an old fashioned spelling bee. And yet for over an hour and a half, every kid and adult present was enthralled.
Most impressive, however, was the genuine empathy and obvious camaraderie clearly on display amongst the young spellers and their cheering peers as they enthusiastically encouraged one another throughout the competition with hugs, high fives, and fist pumps despite a win or loss.
Respect. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. Now that’s a word we could all learn.