It was only a week ago that Haley won her class spelling bee and qualified for the school bee. Today she competed against other 4th and 5th graders to see who would move on to represent Hudson Academy in the district spelling bee.
She prepared for the competition by diligently studying her word list. And by borrowing a pair of glasses (sans lenses) from her friend so that she would "look really smart."
The spelling bee began with 12 contestants. They tried hard, but some stumbled and were out of the competition. Haley stopped each time to think hard about her answer before she began to spell. One hand on her chest, she would close her eyes and take a few deep breaths while she got her answer ready. Then she would slowly and carefully spell the word. I was surprised to realize how invested I was. Of course I always want her to do well, but I found myself clutching my hands together in anxiety as I silently cheered her on.
When asked to spell "cinematic," she really amped up the drama. After thinking about the word for a moment, she began to spell. "C-I-N..." And then she stopped. She stood stock still, thinking about the next letter.
The atmosphere in the gymnasium was so still you could hear a pin drop. All those elementary students (2nd - 5th grade) and none of them made a sound. Everyone was waiting breathlessly to see if she would pull it off. It felt like an eternity (but was probably only 5 or 6 seconds). Finally, she looked up at the judges again and continued. "E-M-A-T-I-C."
"That is correct," the judge responded.
The level of tension had been so high during her long pause that the whole gym erupted in spontaneous applause (in spite of the rule to hold applause for the end of each round) at her successful spell.
By the end of round five, ten of the twelve constants had been eliminated. It was down to only Haley and her friend Mikayla. They went back and forth for seven more rounds!
Finally, Haley was given the word "derivative." I held my breath a little. She had struggled with this word during practice. And she made a tiny mistake. Mikayla then had to spell a word correctly for the win... she received "winnow." *sigh* That's the way a spelling bee goes; even in the same round, not all words are the same level of difficulty.
I was very proud of Haley. She had a quick moment of sadness at missing out on first place, and then rallied and was thrilled with her 2nd place finish. She is already looking forward to competing in the district spelling bee in February.
Way to go, Haley!