A nearly 100-year old American tradition came to life for students at Camden Middle School on the evening of Wednesday, January 18th. Students competed against their peers as CMS hosted its annual Scripps Spelling Bee in the Camden Middle School Auditorium.
Amidst a crowd of family, friends, and community, just over 60 students from fifth grade through eighth grade took the stage in a bid for school-wide spelling supremacy that is as much a competition, as it is a celebration of the spoken and written word. Founded in 1925, the Scripps Spelling Bee is the premier Spelling Bee competition in the United States, with opportunities to advance as far as the national level.
Getting to the school-wide Bee is an accomplishment all its own. School-wide competitors earned the right to compete through performances in their classroom-level spelling bees. Those accomplishments were recognized through an introductory video celebrating each contender, along with a commemorative t-shirt given to each competitor as they left the stage.
Earning a shot at victory was an endurance test on stage. Onlookers were treated to an evening of spirited, but friendly competition that lasted over two hours. A strong group of nine competitors was whittled down to just two finalists, as an impressive seven contenders shared in a tie for third place.
The final contenders were seventh grade student Justin Melnick, and eighth grade student Maddy Blair. The dynamic duo pushed themselves, and each other to the limit. Both of the final competitors were taken off the brink of elimination multiple times in a dramatic final.
The highest drama of all took place in the seventeenth round of the Bee. Just two words remained on the approved list, and both competitors needed to spell correctly to ensure at least a share of the title.
Melnick’s word was “Lustrum”, defined as “A period of five years.”. He spelled the word correctly to stake his claim at glory.
Then the pressure shifted to Blair. Her word was “Doppelganger”, defined as “An apparition or double of a living person.”
With the entire evening on the line, Blair powered through the twelve letter word with confidence, and the pair fittingly finished their incredible competition in a tie for the championship.