Telegram champ sets sights on Scripps bee

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Published on March 11, 2013

Daniel Burke, 13, a Grade 7 student at St. Matthew’s School, looks towards the judges as they give him his third-round word to
spell in Saturday’s first annual Telegram Spelling Bee at Macdonald Drive Junior High School on Saturday afternoon.
— Photos by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Published on March 11, 2013

Adam Hillman Coxworthy, 10, a Grade 5
student at Mary Queen of Peace School,
reacts after spelling his third-round

Published on March 11, 2013

Telegram business reporter and columnist Dan MacEachern hosted and emceed the
first annual Telegram Spelling Bee.

Published on March 11, 2013

After being eliminated from the competition, speller Chelsea-Jean Woodfine, 13, a
Grade 8 student at Menihek High School in Labrador City, got a chance to bond and
spend some time with her lifelong friends, from left, Gabrielle Williams, Lexie Watson
and Megan Stanley, students at Mount Pearl Intermediate.

Published on March 11, 2013

Evan O’Bryan, 13, a Grade 8 student at
GC Rowe Junior High School in Corner
Brook, spells his third-round word.

Published on March 11, 2013

Katrina-lynn Picco, 12, a Grade 7 student at St. Paul’s Junior High School, gets a photo
taken with her parents Lisa and James Picco.

Published on March 11, 2013

Shannon Patrick Sullivan (right) lecturer, department of mathematics and statistics,
Memorial University, was the pronouncer at the event. At left is Kerry Hann, managing
editor of The Telegram, who was a judge.

Published on March 11, 2013

Telegram Publisher Charlie Stacey with Kaitlin Dillon-Paul, 14, a Grade 8 student at Holy Cross Junior High

Published on March 11, 2013

One of the Top 5 spellers, Juan Carlos Hiedra
Primera, 11, a Grade 6 student at Macdonald
Drive Elementary, spells his word.

Published on March 11, 2013

Nicholas Edwards, 9, a Grade 4 student at St. Mary’s Elementary
School, reads through the program during a break.

Published on March 11, 2013

Aaron Sarkar, 10, a Grade 5 student at
St. Andrew’s Elementary School, spells
his eighth-round word.

Published on March 11, 2013

Samantha Situ, 11, a Grade 6 student at
Bishop Feild School, spells her sixthround

Published on March 11, 2013

From left, spelling bee participants, Christopher Edwards (1), Cassandra Pynn (11), Erin McDonald (2) and Kisanet Andom
Kebedom (3), await their turn to spell.

Published on March 11, 2013

Ryan Pickard, 11, a Grade 6 student at Vanier Elementary,
receives his Spelling Bee medallion from Telegram publisher
and general manager Charlie Stacey.

Published on March 11, 2013

Joshua Simon, 10, a Grade 5 student at St. Augustine’s, spells his word.

Holy Cross student beats competition by spelling ‘tenuous’

It was with seemingly enviable ease that 12-year-old Cassandra Clowe-Coish stood at the microphone and spelled the word “tenuous” Saturday at Macdonald Drive Junior High, winning The Telegram’s 2013 Spelling Bee and qualifying for this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee in May near Washington, D.C.

Fifty-seven students from 30 schools across the province competed in the event. After 11 rounds, plus the championship round, Cassandra won by spelling the anticipated championship word correctly.

“It was hard,” she said afterwards, though her demeanor suggested otherwise.

The competition was certainly stiff with 44 spellers making it through to the second round. “Cashew” was the first word to take a bite out of the competitors. By round six, there were still 15 eager contestants sounding out words and asking for the language of origin and definition of the word they were given.

Students were sent a word list to study earlier this year with many of the words used during the competition on it. Once it was obvious that the contestants left were not going to be tripped up by those words, they were asked to spell words they hadn’t seen before, at least not on the list they used to prepare.


After Round 10, three contestants remained. Cassandra was joined on stage by Claire MacLeod of

St. Bonaventure’s College and Matthew Williams of St. Paul’s Intermediate in Gander. “Arcane” brought it down to just Cassandra and Matthew. After Matthew misspelled “manifesto,” Cassandra secured the win with her final word.

For her fine spelling abilities and her composure under pressure, Cassandra won $3,000, a personal trophy and a dictionary along with a trophy that her school can display until next year’s bee.

As well as qualifying for the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., Cassandra’s airfare — for herself and one other — is taken care of by Porter Airlines. The Telegram is taking care of their hotel accommodations as well. Claire and Matthew both received prizes of $500 each.

Cassandra said she studied every day since she got her list of spelling bee words. What she likes about spelling is also what helped her win the contest.

“Maybe it’s finding out what words mean or where they’re from,” she said. “You can get information on the word and you kind of guess at the spelling.”

Jill Rose, Cassandra’s teacher at Holy Cross Junior High, was clearly proud of her student.

“We’re so happy with how it all turned out,” said Rose. “Cassandra is a great student and a great language arts student. She really enjoys spelling. She prepared quite a bit for this spelling bee today and she really deserves winning.”

This was the first year The Telegram and parent company TC Media took the event on themselves. In the past, The Telegram worked with organizer Postmedia to make the competition possible. When Postmedia advised last year that it was pulling out, The Telegram took on the event.

Charlie Stacey, The Telegram’s publisher, marvelled at the ability and dedication of the young spellers.

“It’s pretty tough,” said Stacey. “I would have been out the second or third round, if I made it that far. You can see there’s an amazing amount of work that they do for this.”

Stacey said that when Postmedia discontinued its program, there were a lot of reasons, both educational and personal, why a team at The Telegram wanted to continue with the spelling bee.

“It’s obviously within the area of literacy which is very important for the newspaper,” he said. “I think it’s got a bit of a soft spot with a number of us and we just wanted to make it happen because the students really enjoy it. They work hard so we just wanted to make it happen this year for them.”

After her victory, Cassandra was already looking forward to testing her skills at the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., and was already planning how one of her prizes could help her out.

“I got the dictionary now so I’m all set,” she said.

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Recent comments

  • Ben
    March 11, 2013 - 09:06

    Way to go Cassandra, good luck at the nationals !!!!!