Monday, March 8, 2021
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A spelling bee… in college: Students with a knack for spelling face off in Undergraduate English Council competition

Left to right: UEC spelling bee finalists Nathan Zoschke, Chris Young and Sara Evans, and UEC members Ben Moats, Roze Brooks and Meg Utz.
Left to right: UEC spelling bee finalists Nathan Zoschke, Chris Young and Sara Evans, and UEC members Ben Moats, Roze Brooks and Meg Utz.

The Undergraduate English Council (UEC) held a classic spelling bee in honor of Literature for Life Week last Wednesday in the Student Union Theatre. Other events included UEC members popping into English classes and doing Guerilla poetry, a screening of the movie “Midnight in Paris” last Tuesday and Pop-up Shakespeare throughout the week.

The purpose was “to bring literature to campus,” said Meg Utz, junior UEC member. “A lot of people don’t take literature classes after their general education classes, so we promote reading on campus.” She spent the evening researching definitions upon request for the spelling bee.

“I had a great time and I learned I need to practice my site words more often,” said Nick Melrose, making a linguistic joke. Site words are those that are the most commonly used in the English language and are taught in elementary school.

A close-knit crowd settled themselves in the two first rows. A mic was passed from participant to participant, and audience members sat with the participants. Everyone had a chance to participate in the game for several rounds, even if they missed a word. Rather than immediate elimination, the spelling bee was scored -One point for each correctly spelled word. When a word was misspelled, the speller did not receive any points.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy the challenge,” Evans said.

Competition quickly got intense when a student missed a word. The word would then be passed on to the next participant who had to correctly spell the word the previous opponent could not.

In the final round it was instant death. If a participant misspelled a word they were out of the game. “The final round was hard because I got out on Aleatoric and everyone else got easy words,” UEC president Sara Evans said.

The spelling bee 1st place winner was Nathan Zoschke, U-News production manager and copy editor.

Communications major Chris Young won 2nd place and walked away with a new set of “Bananagrams.” Evans won 3rd place and walked away with a new Scrabble board game.

“I liked the laid-back, casual atmosphere of the event. I was there to have fun with my friends, but ended up winning Travel Scrabble,” Zoschke said. “It’s good to be reminded of the importance of proper spelling and grammar. It’s easy to forget the spelling we learned in grade school when spell check does everything for us.”

The interaction was lively among the small group. Some students decided to be bold and get on stage, while others participated from their seats.

Students found that spelling skills could easily slip away, and some stumbled while spelling out words. Some students were more serious and focused for the spelling bee.

“I came to redeem myself, because in the second grade, I lost the spelling bee on the word ‘beacon,’ Young said.

Students had many laughs while practicing their spelling and left with a fun educational experience that returned them to their former days in grade school.

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