celebrate education - brought to you by the amarillo globe-news

Students arm for war of words

By Brenda Bernet

It's a battle of words.

The annual regional spelling bee begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Branding Iron Theatre at West Texas A & M University in Canyon. The winner will represent the Amarillo area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Twenty-nine students from the Amarillo-area are eligible to participate in the regional contest. Contestants are in the fifth through eighth grades. At least six spellers are competing for a second time in the regional bee.

Jake Willimon, a seventh-grader from Spearman Middle School, described his first experience at the regional contest last year as exciting and challenging.

"I just like the way it feels to be up there," the 13-year-old said.

Willimon discovered his knack for spelling in fourth grade, when he placed second in a University Interscholastic League contest.

Anjali Raghuram, an eighth-grader from James Bonham Middle School, tries to imagine the words in her mind on the stage.

"I'm very nervous," Raghuram, 12, said. "I hope for the best."

This is her second appearance in a regional spelling bee. The first time, she won and went to the national bee.

"There were a lot of tough competitors," she said of the regional bee.

Each year, the spelling bee begins with contests at elementary and middle school campuses. Winners of campus spelling bees go to county spelling bees.

Winners of the county spelling bees qualify for the regional spelling bee.

Brittany Lowry, an eighth-grader at Canyon Junior High School, enjoys learning the vocabulary and using root words as clues for spelling.

"I study a lot," Lowry, 14, said. "Every time I see a word, I write it down over and over again until I've got it."

The winner of the regional bee will have a memorable experience at the national spelling bee, said Susie Self, special projects coordinator for the Amarillo Globe-News who is overseeing the regional contest.

National bee contestants stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and receive T-shirts. Activities that coincide with the bee include pizza parties and a banquet following the contest.

"These kids take it seriously," Self said. "It's amazing how hard these kids study."

60th Regional Spelling Bee - pdf

calendar of events
  • January 11
    Kickoff of 2009 Program
    Find out what Celebrate Education is all about in this special section in your Sunday paper.
  • March 7
    Regional Spelling Bee, West Texas A&M University
    The annual Regional Spelling Bee will feature the top spellers from the Amarillo area. The top five winners will receive scholarship money ranging from $500 to $5,000 and the winner will travel to Washington, D.C., in June to represent the area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Spring and Fall
    Amarillo Reads community-wide reading projects.
    Dates and details TBA
  • April
    Amarillo Education Matching Grants Program. Exact date TBA
  • April 10
    What's a Kid to Do Special Section
  • April 12
    What's a Kid to Do at the Amarillo Civic Center
    This event will focus on activities and camps for children to participate in during the summer..
  • May 8-29
    Beating the Odds
    A series of stories published daily in the Amarillo Globe-News during the graduation season that profiles people who have inspiring stories to tell about the degree they are about to receive.
  • May 12
    Ready for the Real World program at Amarillo Civic Center
    AISD juniors get training on what's going to face them in a little more than a year.
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Special Section
  • May 16
    Best and Brightest Event at West Texas A&M University
  • Fall
    Discover College Day
    Fifth graders from area schools visit college campuses.
  • October 1
    Great Jobs Special Section
    Focusing on well paying jobs available in the area that people may not know about.
  • November 2
    Career Education Special Section
    Focusing on businesses and others in the community helping young people gain a career vision.
  • November
    Yes You Can Event
    Designed to help people gain information about the next level of education from GED to PhD. Date TBA.
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