For three weeks, Billy Adler, an eighth grader at St. Bede School, studied more than 400 words for the 14th annual Knights of Columbus Spelling Bee, held last Saturday. The most difficult word for him to memorize – voluptuous – was ironically the one that made him the winner.
The spelling bee, judged by Clark Magnet High School teacher Nick Doom and three of his AP government students, was divided into two competitions, one for fourth through sixth graders and the other for seventh and eighth graders. This is just one of the many outreaches by the Knights of Columbus to the local population of Catholic students from St. Bede, St. James and Holy Redeemer Catholic Schools, according to member Gene Griffin.
Holy Redeemer sixth grader Katrina Webb, the winner of the younger division competition, studied with the help of her parents, who marked all the words she had trouble spelling. Webb said she had particular difficulty memorizing the spelling of “chauffeur,” but that her love for reading helped her overall spelling skills. While most students Webb’s age take Saturday as an opportunity to rest from school pressures, she willingly viewed this competition as a test. “I like to know how much I know,” Webb said.
Doom sees a timeless value in the spelling bee. “In the age of computers, it’s still important to know how to spell,” Doom said. Adler likewise found a valuable lesson from the competition. “It helps me operate under pressure,” he said.
But Webb’s inspiration came from a different motive: fun.