On Thursday afternoon, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at Schultz Elementary School in Delaware competed in the school’s spelling bee, and fourth-grader Leighton Sessor was crowned champion.
The bee began with a practice round and simple words, but as the competition went on, the words grew in complexity and obscurity. The students in the competition previously competed in grade-specific spelling bees, and only six students from each grade made it to Thursday’s competition.
Parents of the students sat in the audience watching the competition, occasionally holding their breath when a student spelling a word seemed unsure of the next letter. The tension in the competition was temporarily elevated when Eli Derstine was asked to spell the word “jerkily.” Derstine gave his best guess at the letters, and he jokingly exclaimed, “What kind of word is that?” as he strolled to his seat after being eliminated.
The competition eventually came down to fourth-grade students Mick Wiener and Sessor, who went back and forth a few rounds before Wiener was eliminated and Sessor was declared the champion.
Sessor was the runner-up in last year’s competition. Following her victory, Sessor said she felt “really good” about winning.
Sessor added she spent 20-30 minutes of her free time breaking the packet words into syllables to make them easier to study.
“I’m excited for the next competition,” said Sessor, who added she was excited for both the online spelling bee and excited to take part in the spelling bee next year as a fifth-grader.
After the competition, Wiener said he had practiced about 30 minutes a night for two weeks, but he didn’t expect to get very far.
“Of course I wasn’t (expecting to be runner up),” Wiener said. “There were people who studied more and practiced more.”
Wiener added when he realized he was in the final two with Sessor, he became very nervous.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Wiener said. “I felt like my insides were getting smashed by a hammer.”
Wiener said he “felt great” about getting runner-up, and he thinks he might practice more next year in his quest to become champion.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.