Students get ready for Bee

COVINGTON -- Students who are better spellers than some of their older siblings and even their parents get to show off their skills this week.

Nineteen elementary and middle school students in the Newton County School System will compete in the county's 2010 Spelling Bee Friday morning. It is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Friday at Eastside High School, which is located at 10245 Eagle Drive in Covington.

"The Spelling Bee is a fun activity in which children can participate to demonstrate the spelling skills and knowledge they have learned," said Dr. Ken Proctor, director of elementary schools at NCSS.

Participants in the county bee are fourth- through eighth-grade winners from their individual school bees this school year. In the event the winner can't participate in the county bee, the alternate will be the speller.

"I am very proud of all of the school winners," Proctor said. "Spelling is a life skill that will help students be successful in future educational endeavors and in real life. ... Written communication is an essential component of everyday life. In order to be an effective and efficient communicator, one must have adequate spelling knowledge."

At the county bee, students will take turns spelling words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee organization and may ask for the definition of the given word, for the caller to repeat the word or for the word to be used in a sentence before spelling the word. Spellers move forward after they spell their given word correctly; those who fail to spell the word correctly are eliminated from the competition until only two remain in the competition.

When the competition is down to two contestants and a speller misspells a word, the other contestant may spell the same word, and if he spells that word and the next word correctly, he is the winner of the bee. If the second speller misses the new word, the first contestant will win if he spells the misspelled word and the next word correctly, according to NCSS.

Proctor said the county bee is open to the public, especially parents and family members of those participating. NCSS asks that infants and small children not attend, so as not to distract the contestants, and that flash photography be used only after the competition.

The winner of Newton County's Spelling Bee will move on to compete in the regional spelling bee, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. Feb. 27 at Putnam County Elementary School in Eatonton.