How do you spell success?
That likely won’t be the winning word, but we will find out on Saturday evening after the group of competitors complete the 6th annual Telegram Spelling Bee slated for Holy Heart Theatre in St. John’s.
A total of 76 competitors, some of the province’s brightest young minds from Grades 4-8, are taking part this year. Those competitors come from all regions of the Island portion of the province and one school from Labrador.
“We have three spellers back for a fourth time, two spellers back for a third time, 13 spellers making their second appearance and a whopping 56 newcomers,” said Shannon Patrick Sullivan, the event’s pronouncer.
There are two competitors whose status is unknown at The Telegram’s press deadline.
Sullivan works in the department of mathematics and statistics and is senior faculty advisor in the faculty of science at Memorial University in St. John’s.
Vincent Burton, now a Grade 8 student at Macdonald Drive Junior High School in St. John’s, will return to defend his 2017 crown.
Joining Sullivan as part of the event’s judging group are chief judge Pam Frampton, associate managing editor of The Telegram, and judges Sandra Patterson, CEO of Junior Achievement N.L., and retired educator Sharon Reddy.
“There is also a strong support team behind the scenes who help make this event a success,” Leo Gosse, regional director of reader sales and marketing for The Telegram, said Thursday.
“We have been fortunate to grow our sponsor base and, in addition, have the community rallying behind us for this event. We are proud of our bee. It is the last one, the only one remaining in Canada, to our knowledge,” Gosse said.
In fact, Carol Wadden, the Newspaper In Education (NIE) co-ordinator for The Telegram, has fielded requests for entry from regions outside the province.
“New Brunswick and Ontario have contacted us, wanting to send kids to the event. Due to residential criteria, we couldn’t accommodate that request, but it shows the widespread success we are having here,” Wadden said.
She said it has become so popular in this province that schools are running out of time they have allotted for in-house spelling bees. Several have indicated they had to continue them the following day in order to give all spellers a chance to compete fairly and arrive at a winner.
Wadden said interest in the event is growing and she hopes at some point in the future organizers reach their goal of 50 schools taking part and a maximum of 100 participants vying for the title.
Included in the competitors is one school from Labrador, six from the west coast region (four from Corner Brook and two from Stephenville), Cloud River Academy in Roddickton and Gander Elementary, just to name a few.
“This allows academia to shine, for children in Grades 4-8 an opportunity to compete in something other than athletics,” Gosse said.
The event gets underway at 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Holy Heart Theatre.
Admission to the event is free with a non-perishable food item.
Those who can’t attend but who wish to follow the event can see it broadcast on The Telegram’s Facebook live page.
Up for grabs for the champion is a $2,000 top prize and a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., held annually in May.