Public Speaking thrives at the 2nd Annual Madera Spelling Bee

The 2nd annual Madera Spelling Bee took place on Tuesday, January 29, 2013. 221 students from seven classrooms in grades 4-6 had participated in their classroom bees earlier in the month. The top three students in each classroom moved on to the school-wide Bee, a total of 21 participants.

2013 Madera art logo designed by 6th grader Ian McCue. Credit: Lucy Kirsch
2013 Madera art logo designed by 6th grader Ian McCue. Credit: Lucy Kirsch

Mr. Danysh, a fifth grade teacher, served as MC. Adorned with t-shirts designed for the occasion by sixth grader Ian McCue as part of an art contest, the spellers appeared before a packed house in the Madera multipurpose room, which was spilling over with all of the school’s fourth through sixth grade students, as well as proud parents, grandparents, friends, and other relatives. For winning the t-shirt design contest, Ian received a t-shirt with his design and a gift card to Blicks arts supply store.

Each speller approached the microphone on stage and spelled the given word. At the end of each round, only the students who correctly spelled their word survived to the next round. The thunderous applause between each round made each participant smile. Every student appeared eager and confident, enjoying their successes, and accepting misspellings with grace and poise.

After nine rounds lasting one hour, Mr. Danysh called for a recess. Only four students remained: Phoenix Mulligan (4th grade), Amelia Burfoot-Willis (4th grade), Kristy Chu (4th grade), and Lukas Kirsch (4th grade). We had 10 more rounds before a winner was declared. By then, there were only two students remaining: Kristy and Lukas. As one of the judges, I knew I had to pay attention. However, I could barely breathe or see straight. I don’t know how these students could stand in front of a huge crowd and continue spelling words I cannot pronounce.

Madera finalists with Mr. Danysh: Phoenix Mulligan (5th grade), Lukas Kirsch (4th grade), Kristy Chu (4th grade), and Amelia Burfoot-Willis (4th grade). Credit: Steven Gaffagan

Finally, Round 20 arrived and a winner was announced. Kristy Chu became our Madera Champion with the winning word percussion. She will move onto the district bee in March 2013. Lukas Kirsch came in 2nd place and we had a tie for 3rd place: Phoenix and Amelia. These extremely well-prepared and hardworking students received Barnes & Noble gift cards and our fantastic champion received a Nook, thanks to Madera PTA.

When I asked Kristy how she felt, she said her friend hugged her so hard that her bones were about to break. She was smiling and happy even with the additional 1,500 study words I provided in preparation for the district bee!

I would like to thank Mr. Eric Danysh, who not only guided the students with his calm demeanor and brilliant definitions but also was responsible for the first Spelling Bee art contest at Madera, which yielded Ian’s t-shirt design. I would also like to thank my fellow judge Ms. Heather Best who helped organize this amazing event. And lastly, as a judge, I’m proud to have worked with dedicated teachers who support education with public speaking for our young students. It’s tough to be in front of a crowd but these students are rock stars thanks to their encouraging and fearless teachers!

~Lucy Kirsch (Madera parent & Spelling Bee judge)

Check out the article on El Cerrito Patch for more photos >