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Second Bee win for Roddickton girl


Telegram Spelling Bee brings students from all over Newfoundland and Labrador

It was like déjà vu for Mattie Cull early Saturday evening. The eighth-grade Roddickton girl is a two-time champion of The Telegram Spelling Bee after winning in 2016, and now again in 2018.

“It’s just so great,” said Mattie, after receiving her trophy. “I’m just shaking all over.”

73 of the province’s best young spellers from grades four to eight descended on Holy Heart Theatre Saturday, coming from as far away as Happy Valley-Goose Bay to participate.

Students spelt words such as “paradigm”, “metamorphosis”, and “maelstrom” in an intense competition that lasted 13 rounds before Mattie was declared the winner.

Mattie wasn’t the only returning participant this year: three spellers were back for a fourth time, two for a third time, and 13 for a second time. Students who attend the Telegram Spelling Bee first have to win their school-level bee, so being able to return several years in a row is quite the accomplishment.

Part-way through the event, emcee and The Telegram’s managing editor Steve Bartlett asked the audience if parents would be able to spell all of the words that their children did. There was laughter and a comment that perhaps even The Telegram’s editors would struggle with some of the words, which is probably true.

Shannon Patrick Sullivan, the event’s pronouncer, went through all of the words on the 500-word “Spell It Guide” by round seven, so all rounds after that came down to words the students were not able to prepare for or memorize.

13-year-old Mattie, a student at Cloud River Academy, won with the word “induction”. She said the bee was much more nerve-wracking when the rounds went “off list” because “you don’t know what you’re going to be asked … you have to just follow what you think.”

By Round 12, there were just three spellers left: Mattie, Elizabeth Park Elementary fifth-grader Isaac Brown, and St. Bonaventure’s College eighth-grader Ashlyn Miller, who became the runner-up in the 13th round.

In another impressive feat, last year’s champion, Macdonald Drive Junior High eighth-grader Vincent Burton, made it to the 11th round this year.

Mattie says she put a lot of effort into winning the bee a second time.

“I studied every night for an hour or so … ever since the school spelling bee about a month ago.”

All of that studying paid off. Cull’s prize includes a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May, a $2,000 education bursary, a personal trophy, and a trophy to display in her school.

While spelling bees are not as widespread as they once were, they remain a popular competition in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Carol Wadden, the Newspaper in Education co-ordinator for The Telegram, says it has become so popular in this province that schools are running out of time they have allotted for in-house spelling bees. Several schools indicated they had to continue them the following day in order to give all spellers a chance to compete fairly and arrive at a winner.

Leo Gosse, regional director of reader sales and marketing for The Telegram, says organizers are proud of the spelling bee.

“It is the last one, the only one remaining in Canada, to our knowledge,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mattie says she is looking forward to getting to travel to Washington, but she is also taking her berth into the Scripps National Spelling Bee seriously. She plans on using the dictionary to study every night in preparation for the competition.

juanita.mercer@thetelegram.com

With files from Sam McNeish.

Earlier story

Roddickton girl wins Telegram Spelling Bee for second time

It was like déjà vu for Mattie Cull early Saturday evening. The eighth-grade Roddickton native is a two-time champion of The Telegram Spelling Bee after winning in 2016, and now again in 2018.

73 of the province’s best young spellers from grades 4 to 8 descended on Holy Heart Theatre in St. John's Saturday, coming from as far away as Happy Valley-Goose Bay to participate.

Students spelt words such as “waterzooi” and “maelstrom” in an intense competition that lasted 13 rounds before Cull was declared the winner.

Shannon Patrick Sullivan, the event’s pronouncer, went through all of the words on the 500-word “Spell It Guide” by round seven, so all rounds after that came down to words the students were not able to memorize from a list.

Cull, a student at Cloud River Academy, won with the word “induction”.

“I studied every night for an hour or so…ever since the school spelling bee about a month ago.”

All of that studying paid off. Cull’s prize includes a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May, a $2,000 education bursary, a personal trophy, and a trophy to display in her school.

St. Bonaventure’s College student Ashlyn Miller was the runner-up. In another impressive feat, last year’s champion, Macdonald Drive Junior High eighth-grader Vincent Burton, made it to round 11 this year.

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