Doug Atchison introduced the spelling bee to pop culture when he released Akeelah and the Bee in 2006, a heart warming film about a girl from a predominantly black middle school in Los Angeles who defies the odds to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee (which I watch every year). If you’ve never seen the movie, reserve a night to rent it with your kids. You’ll be surprised at the drama that can be built around something as old school as the spelling bee.
Our town had its annual bee this Saturday. Kids in grades 2-5 were invited to participate in teams of four, and a couple hundred signed up. I was impressed by the enthusiasm on stage. Most of the kids wore home made t-shirts and costumes, and they all came up with team names — Beeware, Killer Bees, Gentlemen Bees, Dictionary Divas, Lu-beez… The most audacious name in the 4th grade competition was The Team Who Will Win. And guess what – they won!
What impressed me even more was the the diversity of kids who participated. One might assume that the field was limited to spelling savants who don’t get out much, but not at all! There were spellers of every stripe at the bee. Who knew spelling was so cool?
As the bee progressed and the words got more and more difficult, there was a buzz in the audience of, “How do they know these?” and “I’ve never even heard of that word.” Perhaps the parents have grown dependent on spell check! I know this one has.
Here’s a short clip to give you a flavor. The word is ligature.