Remember Spelling Bees?

Remember when the teacher would hold a spelling bee in class?

I do.

The teacher would line us up and ask us, one by one, how to spell certain words.  I had always considered myself a good speller.  In the third grade I had won a very close spelling bee by remembering that to spell “Thanksgiving” one had to begin by saying, “Capital ‘T’…”

My gift left me in the fifth grade.  I’ll never forget it.  It was winter, and I wore my jacket while standing up there because I knew I was going to cream everyone and thought I would look cooler doing it with a winter jacket on.  I chuckled at the other students who went before me and stumbled on words whose spellings I had mastered years before.  Finally it was my turn.

“Judgment,” said the teacher.

“Judgment,” I repeated.  “No problem.  J-U-D-G-…um…-E-M-E-N-T.  Judgment.”

“Wrong,” said the teacher.  “Sit down.”

“Wrong?”  I could not believe my ears.  I was going down in first round?  I never went down in the first round.

Oh the shame I suffered that morning.  What made it worse was that the boy after me was given the word “brine” to spell. Brine?  How easy could it get?  Even brine could spell the word brine.  I saw that all the skill in the world did not mean anything if Lady Luck was not on your side.  That same lucky lad successfully spelled “bountiful” and “personna” to win the bee.  Okay, maybe personna was a tough one.  To remember that second “n” required something special.

Today, instead of spelling bees, they probably have spellchecker bees.  The students are lined up and one by one are given a word that they have to punch into their hand-held devices and run spell check.  The skill lies in knowing whether to pick one of the choices you’re given, or click on the “ignore” choice.

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