Last Wednesday night was the annual Leadership Worthington Spelling Bee hosted at Worthington Kilbourne High School. In my position with Worthington Schools I was asked by several different groups to participate on a spelling bee team. I take those invitations as a great compliment. Obviously, to at least a few people I have hidden the truth well. The truth is, I can’t spell at all and the thought of participating in a spelling bee creates a visceral physical reaction.
As a child I remember the class spelling bee well. We would all line-up around the classroom and were asked by the teacher to spell a word in front of the class. Those students who spelled the word correctly stayed standing, those of us who misspelled our words would return to our seats. As a student who was diagnosed with a learning disability at least in part for lacking any understanding of phonics and word creation this was my personal hell. I remember praying that the word I was given would be posted somewhere else in the classroom and I could just read it off the wall. Or at the very least, maybe the word would be hard enough that it wasn’t a total embarrassment in front of my classmates that I couldn’t spell the word. Most years I was out quick and the fear and embarrassment was short lived. (Short lived, but long remembered. Many things that happen in our youth are remembered forever. As teachers we have to be cognizant of this truth and plan our activities carefully to not cause unintended consequences.)
When I was in college (pre-internet and “spell check”) I lived with my blue Webster’s dictionary on my desk. In graduate school at Ohio State my beautiful wife, who can spell everything, became my personal spell check. Today, “spell check” catches most of my mistakes, but I sometimes have to choose a different word because I am so far off in my original spelling that “spell check” has no suggestions. It’s so bad that when I write a hand-written note I usually first type it on the computer and “spell check” it before I copy the words onto the note.
All of this to say, I can’t spell and I envy those that can. That said, disregarding my personal spelling shortfalls, the voluntary community spelling bee is a really great event. Worthington students competed at 5:00 P.M. with the team from McCord Middle School prevailing. The adult competition is always intense and this year was no different. Teams collaborate and work together and a grand competition ensues. It’s good for everyone who chooses to come together to participate. I’ll support the spelling bee every year. You’ll just never see me compete in the spelling bee.