Practice makes perfect

Busy bee takes top honours for second year at 2012 Telegram Postmedia Canspell regional spelling bee

Tara Bradbury tbradbury@thetelegram.com
Published on March 5, 2012

How do you spell “champion?”

Here’s a hint: it begins with the letter J.

Twelve-year-old Jennifer Mong of St. John’s proved herself the queen bee once again, as she took first place in the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Canspell Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Spelling Bee. It’s the second year in a row the MacDonald Drive Junior High School student has been crowned winner of the bee, and her fourth year in the Top 3: three years ago she ended up in first place, and she came second the next year.

Fifty-five spellers between Grades 4 and 8 from around the island, each having outspelled more than 1,800 local students in school-level competitions, stepped up to the microphone one by one on stage at College of the North Atlantic in St. John’s, spelling words given to them by Thomas Goud, professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of New Brunswick. Judges for the event were Junior Achievement president and CEO Sandra Patterson; The Telegram’s managing director, Kerry Hann; and Shannon Patrick Sullivan, lecturer in MUN’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

After 13 rounds, it was down to Jennifer and Brother Rice Junior High school student JinJi Dawson, last year’s third place winner. After JinJi mispelled “cinephile,” Jennifer correctly spelled “symmetrical.” She was then given her championship word: “toreador.”

Some spellers closed their eyes to try to see the correct spelling of their word in the dictionary; others used their finger to “write” the word on their hand or arm. Jennifer’s strategy was the same as last year: she asked for the definition of every word, whether she felt she knew the correct spelling or not.

“Sometimes, when I practiced with my mom and dad, I’d hear the word wrong, and I just wanted to make sure,” she explained.

It’s been a busy few weeks for Jennifer, who, in addition to studying spelling words, has been studying piano and violin. Last week, she earned six first-place and two second-place awards at the Kiwanis Music Festival.

“I think I’m going to sleep all day tomorrow,” she said, laughing.

The students had each been given a list of 1,200 words to learn over the past month or so, in preparation for the regional bee. They weren’t all easy ones, either, including “muumuu” and “contrapuntal.”

 

Eleven-year-old Erin McDonald was eliminated in the sixth round, after misspelling “mesmerize,” but she wasn’t upset.

“I know not a lot of people do this, and I’m here with the best of the best,” said Erin, who, along with 12-year-old Kyle Fraser, came from Gander to compete in the regionals. “I’ll try again next year, if I can. I’ll be competing against kids older than me. I just think it’s really fun, coming here and meeting other kids and everything.” 

As winner, Jennifer will travel to Toronto at the end of the month for the Postmedia Canspell National Spelling Bee. If she’s successful there, she’ll go to Washington in May for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“These kids are obviously very skilled and have been spending a lot of time on studying,” said Telegram publisher Charlie Stacey. “We’re quite proud of Jennifer and we’re hoping she does well in Toronto. We’ll be cheering her on.”

As winner of the regional event, Jennifer was presented with a trophy and a cheque for $5,000 from the Egg Farmers of Canada — which she said would be going straight into the bank for her education fund, the same as last year’s cheque.

 

tbradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

Jennifer Mong

Published on 05 March 2012

Speller Jennifer Mong of Macdonald Drive Junior High reacts after winning the 2012 The Telegram Postmedia Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

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Jennifer Mong

Published on 05 March 2012

Jennifer Mong (right) is presented with a $5,000 cheque by Ann Marie Whelan, executive director of the Egg Producers of Newfoundland at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon.

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Brandon Tilley

Published on 05 March 2012

Brandon Tilley of St. Andrew’s Elementary.

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Tyler Morgan

Published on 05 March 2012

Tyler Morgan of St. Peter’s Elementary.

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Alyssa Hoskins

Published on 05 March 2012

Alyssa Hoskins of Holy Family Elementary.

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Nicolas Keough

Published on 05 March 2012

Nicolas Keough of Mary Queen of Peace.

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Spelling judges

Published on 05 March 2012

The judging panel included (from left) Sandra Patterson, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Newfoundland and Labrador, Kerry Hann, managing editor of The Telegram, Shannon Sullivan, department of mathematics and statistics at Memorial university, pronouncer Thomas Goud, professor of classics and ancient history at the University of New Brunswick, Allison Sparkes, assistant manager of reader sales and service for The Telegram and Carol Wadden, NIE co-ordinator for The Telegram.

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Josh Hiscock

Published on 05 March 2012

Josh Hiscock of St. Francis of Assisi School.

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Kristen Branton

Published on 05 March 2012

Kristen Branton of Holy Family Elementary.

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Julia Thorp

Published on 05 March 2012

Julia Thorp of Presentation Junior High.

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Matthew Williams

Published on 05 March 2012

Matthew Williams (left) of St. Paul’s Intermediate stands with The Telegram’s publisher Charlie Stacey after receiving his medal for reaching the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon.

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Jennifer Mong

Published on 05 March 2012

Jennifer Mong (centre), a Grade 8 student at Macdonald Drive Junior High, celebrates with her mom Jessie and dad Kam. Mong won the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Canspell Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon.

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Jayden Brown

Published on 05 March 2012

Jayden Brown of Virginia Park Elementary gets his name tag from Telegram volunteer Wanda Learning as he registers for the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon. At rear is Telegram volunteer Judy Peddle.

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Spelling audience

Published on 05 March 2012

Family and friends watch the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon.

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 Josh Hiscock

Published on 05 March 2012

Spellers Josh Hiscock of St. Francis of Assisi and Jinji Dawson of Brother Rice Junior High wait patiently for their turn to spell the next word at the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon. Dawson ended up being the runner up to this year’s winner.

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Quinton Parsons

Published on 05 March 2012

Quinton Parsons of Amalgamated Academy takes a turn at his word at the 2012 Telegram Postmedia Canspell N.L. Regional Spelling Bee at the College of the North Atlantic Saturday afternoon.

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