MS Spelling Bee: Pass the (Not Abysmal) Cookies, Please

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Byline: Jessica Fiddes

Middle School Consortium Spelling Bee winners with Bee master Mike Carr '01, on left, and MS Guidance Counselor Rick Cimino on right.

Delbarton hosted the Middle School Consortium of NJ Spelling Bee on December 9. Master of Spelling Michael Carr ’01 moderated the event with just the right mix of authority and humanity. Click here for photos.

The Spelling Bee included nine Consortium schools: Central Middle School (from Long Hill Township), Delbarton, Frelinghuysen Middle School, Kent Place School, Morris Plains Boro Middle School, Morristown Beard, Oak Knoll School, Oratory Prep and Ridgedale Middle School (missing this year was Newark Academy, always a strong contender, and we hope to see them back next year).

The Bee followed the Scripps National Spelling Bee Rules and was divided into two divisions, JV and Varsity, with awards are given for first, second and third place in each group. The results:

JV: 1st place: Sam Lewis - Morris Plains; 2nd Place: Max Dublirer - Central Middle; 3rd place: Patrick Smart -- Delbarton School (Yes, after several years of a spelling bee draught, Delbarton finally makes it onto the Bee scoreboard!)

Varsity: 1st place: Peter Swope - Morris Plains Boro (son of a former Delbarton teacher); 2nd place: Nicholas Rauschenberger - Ridgedale; 3rd place: Jake DanzaRidgedale. We salute Ridgedale Middle School on its two Varsity award winners, a significant achievement.

We asked Delbarton's third place JV winner Patrick Smart how he prepared his first official spelling bee. “My mom told me to research spelling bee tips online, and I also looked at some spelling lists,” said Patrick. He discovered advice like the classic rule ‘i before e except after c’ (“Things you learned in kindergarten,” Patrick observes) and breaking the word into syllables while tracing invisible letters in the palm of your hand.

As a seventh grader, Patrick is eligible for next year’s Consortium Bee if he successfully navigates the Delbarton Middle School Preliminary Bee to qualify as a 2016 Varsity contender. “I have a whole year to prepare,” he adds soberly, with enough foresight to warm any Delbarton mother’s heart.

We noticed that this year’s Bee concluded earlier than usual, and wondered why. The answer: challenging words.

Middle School Guidance Counselor Rick Cimino says that two difficult-to-spell words eliminated quite a few competitors: abysmal and firmament. They look easy enough in print but are no pushovers to spell aloud, and both stumped quite a few boys and girls. In fact, the Bee ended a full hour earlier than usual, but Cimino assures us that the host school was not trying to set a record -- much as we love breaking records at Delbarton School for Achievers Who May or May Not Spell Well.

How did middle schoolers react to an extra hour off from school? Clearly devastated by unscripted time that did not include standardized testing, the youngsters managed to kill the pain with cookies, juice, chips and granola bars while socializing with new spelling bee friends.

Delbarton men, you have a full year to brush up on your spelling skills. And the year. Starts. NOW.

Contact: Jessica Fiddes -- Director of Communications. For the latest news, check our Facebookpage and@Delbarton. For Green Wave fans, be sure to also follow @DelbartonSports. Stay connected to Delbarton music, theater and arts by following @DelbartonArts.

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