Starsiders queue up for the bee
As students filed out of the cafeteria one by one Monday with looks of disappointment on their faces, Starside Elementary School counselor Paula Henderson was there to greet them in the hallway.
"You did such a great job," she told each one. "You know how many kids wished they could have been up there?"
It was the Starside school spelling bee where the best spellers from their classrooms went head to head to determine who would ultimately go on to the Johnson County Spelling Bee.
As the students progressed through the rounds, the words became increasingly difficult in order to determine who really was the best speller.
Each student marched up to the microphone and contorted their faces as they focused and envisioned how to spell the word.
The first word to trip up a student was "began." It was just the beginning of a trickle of students who would ultimately join the visiting parents in the cafeteria to cheer on the remaining competitors.
A moment of confusion occurred when the panel of judges thought that a mispronunciation of the word "prescription" led a student to misspell it starting with "P-E-R." The student was asked back and given another word instead to make sure he had a fair chance.
Resource teacher Sarah Brown pronounced the words for the competition, a task she has done for about five years.
She noticed some types of words are generally more difficult for students to spell.
"It's those tricky ones whether you have double Cs or double Ss or both, like in success," she said.
Eventually it was down to two students. After a close competition, fifth-grader Kate Barger won the spelling bee.
Kate said she had been practicing since she found out the week before she would compete in the spelling bee.
"My mom gave me a word, and then I spelled it out," she said. "If I missed one, I kept trying and trying until I got it."
Kate's mother, Brenda Barger, said her daughter would practice that way about two or three short times each day.
Kate spelled words on a practice list students were given.
"I am very proud of her," Barger said of her daughter's win.
Her classmates were proud of her also. When Kate came out of the cafeteria, they surprised her with a "Yay!" and applause.
"That is so cool that you won," one classmate said to Kate.
Kate said the most difficult word for her was "necessary," which she and her opponent misspelled in the final round.
"I realized how to spell it after I got it wrong," she said.
Kate said to planned to use her winning Starside practice routine to prepare for the Johnson County Spelling Bee Feb. 9 at Indian Woods Middle School, 9700 Woodson Dr., Overland Park.
"Well maybe a little bit more," she said.
In the end, Kate said she wasn't really surprised she won the spelling bee.
"After all that practice, I really did think I was going to win," she said with a smile.