Class Winners Gear Up for Virtual School Spelling Bee


Mr. Crisafi

The class spelling bees have concluded, but who will emerge as the middle school champion?

Many competitions both on the field and on the court have been canceled this year due to COVID-19. However, there is one classroom competition that has not: the spelling bee.
A TBS tradition for many years, the class bees are held in sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade English classes. The winner from each class moves on to the school spelling bee for the opportunity to represent TBS at the regional competition. This is different from years past as the winner and runner up would usually advance to the school bee, but this year the rule was changed to prevent overcrowding in the Barker Performing Arts Center (BPAC) and keep in line with social distancing.

For the class bees, the teachers gave students a list of words to study, which some students appreciated.

“I studied a little bit for the spelling bee,” said seventh grader RJ Pierman, who won his class bee. “One of the ways that I studied is that I had my dad say the word, and I would spell it. “I did not expect to win the [class] spelling bee, but I am glad that I did. I am excited to participate in the [school] spelling bee, and I will have to study a lot harder now.”
“The way that I studied for the spelling bee is I would practice with my mom and she would quiz me,” said sixth grader Grace Vining, a winner in Mrs. Ponchock’s D-period class. “I was not sure that I would win the spelling bee, but I was not surprised when I won, because I studied for it.

Other students chose not to study.

“I did not really study for the spelling bee,” said eighth grader Bella Marx, a winner in Mrs. Devine’s A period class. “I am not excited to participate in the [school] spelling bee, but I will try my best.”

Despite the anxiety that may come with spelling in front of the entire school, some students believe the bee is an important tradition at TBS.

“I think that students really do enjoy the spelling bee and that it is a great addition to the Benjamin School and its students,” said Vining.

The nervousness and stage fright that students sometimes feel spelling in front of their peers may be lessened this year as the spellers will not be competing in front of a live audience in the BPAC. Instead, they will be seated in front of the stage in the BPAC with only the judges present. The students will spell their words in front of a giant screen which will broadcast the bee to middle school classrooms via Zoom.

This year, eighth-grade students were required to spell three words correctly in the class bees. Sixth and seventh-grade students received a classwork grade based on the words they spelled correctly while eighth graders received extra credit.

“To help students try their best, an incentive is offered – extra credit points rather than the traditional grade,” said English Department Chair and eighth-grade English teacher Ms. Kathleen Devine. “For each word spelled correctly, a student receives five extra credit points. With three words to spell, each student has the ability to earn fifteen extra credit points. Nearly all of the students at Benjamin like to accrue academic accolades, and participating in the bee affords that opportunity.”

The following is a list of the class winners and the runners-up, with the winners advancing to the school bee competition on January 23:

8A Devine
Bella Marx (Winner)
Rebekkah Merkel (Runner up)

8D Devine
Samantha Hill (Winner)
Jia Guan (Runner up)

8E Devine
Athena Lekkas (Winner)
No runner up

8F Devine
Rachel Rotter (Winner)
Lucy Molnar (Runner up)

8G Devine
Vanessa Zito (Winner)
Brianna Cousin (Runner up)

8H Devine
Lauren Slyh (Winner)
Kenneth Tepper (Runner up)

7B – Ginnetty
Haley Roth (Winner)
Ava Seested (Runner Up)

7C – Ginnetty
Han Tang (Winner)
Bella (Runner up)

7D – Ginnetty
Alina Zheng (Winner)
London Allen (Runner up)

7E – Ginnetty
Chloe York (Winner)
Abbey Trousdell (Runner up)

7H – Ginnetty
RJ Pierman (Winner)
Reecie Hoben (Runner up)

7G – Ginnetty
Sage Ponchock (Winner)
Shay Patel (Runner up)

6A Ponchock
Lily Feiner (Winner)
Elena Gahan (Runner up)

6B Ponchock
Emmett Scott (Winner)
Andrew Tsar (Runner up)

6C Ponchock
Gianna DiLeo (Winner)
Matthew FitzPatrick (Runner up)

6D Ponchock
Grace Vining (Winner)
Ian Kaufman (Runner up)

6F Ponchock
Brittney Friedman (Winner)
Ava Shawe (Runner up)

6G Ponchock
Maia Sonntag Camejo (Winner)
Declan Zinkil (Runner up)