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Buzz from the spelling bee


December 17, 2016

Photo by Jeremy Jaeger A big smile from Niwot Elementary School spelling bee champion Clara Bamford last week.

Fears regarding the breakdown of language in the modern age of text-messaging and internet-based communication were alleviated on Wednesday, Dec. 7, by the stellar performance of contestants in the annual Niwot Elementary School Spelling Bee.

Eleven contestants from grades three through five battled their way through several rounds in the Niwot Elementary gymnasium before an audience composed of their (mostly) attentive fellow students from grades two to five, along with teachers, administrators and parents.

Contestants repeatedly stood at the microphone and calmly asked the judges to “repeat the word,” to give the word’s definition and part of speech, and to “use it in a sentence, please.” Tension mounted as the difficulty of the words increased with each round, with audible gasps, moans and cheers from the audience. “Bedraggled,” “perilous,” “cavalcade” and “implacable” produced misspellings that sent contestants offstage, where they were met and consoled with Tootsie Roll Pops.

The original 11 were whittled down to the final two. After her rival was tripped up by “tenaciously,” Clara Bamford first correctly spelled “Icarus,” and then carefully pronounced her way through the thicket of “scrumptiously” to emerge as this year’s champion, successfully defending her title from last year’s spelling bee.

Her first-prize award was a hefty 350,000-word dictionary. She will be representing Niwot Elementary at the Barnes and Noble Regional Spelling Bee, which will take place on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Platt Middle School in Boulder.


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