Greenlee County Spelling Bee has its own form of nectar

Contributed Photo: Just as a bumblebee collects and enjoys the nectar of a sunflower, so will the 20 students taste the sweetness of accomplishment at the 2020 Greenlee County Spelling Bee. It is Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Morenci Metcalf School multi-purpose room. The public is encouraged to attend.

Event is Tuesday, Feb. 11 at Morenci Metcalf School

By Walt Mares 

As the bumblebee seeks nectar from the sunflower, so will 20 students emerge with the sweetness of accomplishment at the 2020 Greenlee County Spelling Bee. The Bee is to held Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Morenci Metcalf School multi-purpose room. It begins at 6:30 p.m. It is an annual event that draws much community interest, particularly among parents, grandparents and the public in general.  

Students from Duncan and Morenci schools, from elementary school to eighth grades will compete. There will be 10 competitors from each school. There will be a team of judges. The soft ring of a bell will signal the incorrect spelling of a word. As he has done for several years, Channen Day will be the pronouncer. The Spelling Bee is sponsored by The Greenlee County Schools Superintendent’s office.

Superintendent Tom Powers said, “It’s a very special event. It’s something every one of these kids will remember for the rest of their lives. I know it means a lot to their folks, too.”

Above all, it signifies an accomplishment by each student whether or not they make it past the first round. 

“What’s important is that they made it to become part of the Bee,” Powers said. “That in itself is an accomplishment each student can be proud of.  And we try to make it as comfortable and enjoyable for every participant and wish the best for each one.” 

The Bee involves mystery, and drama. It is intense. The crowd is quiet as each competitor steps to the microphone. The pronouncer speaks a word that is to be spelled correctly. Each student will pause to think about the word’s spelling and then do her or his best to deliver the correct answer. It appears as if the audience is holding its collective breath until an answer, correctly or not, is given. There is more to it than spelling a word correctly.  

There is an initial practice round to provide each speller an opportunity to become familiar with the Bee’s setting. For most competitors, it is a first-time experience being up on a stage and facing an audience. Undoubtedly that can make just about anyone quite nervous, if not almost terrified.  The setting adds greatly to the challenge of being on the mark with a word. 

There will be those who have been through it before. One might think of those Bee veterans as odds-on favorites. But remember, it is much like most competitive events. There may a great deal of time spent in practicing but there can be unseen factors that can result in the unexpected.  Even so, being prepared and cool, calm and collected have long proven to be keys to success. 

Morenci’s Isabella Campbell is an example of someone who is very familiar with what a Spelling Bee is all about. Campbell is an eighth-grader and will be in her final year of competition. She has been a county champion and also finished twice as runner-up. Campbell won the Bee in 2017. In 2018, she was runner-up to Cambri McCauley and runner-up in 2019 to Kryzzia Cortez. McCauley and Cortez are also from Morenci Schools. 

Superintendent Tom Powers has been busy preparing for the event. Along with other duties of his office, Powers has been busier “than a one-legged Santa Claus.” He said, “The Spelling Bee has a strong sense of purpose. We hope we have a good, solid crowd to see and encourage all 20 of these kids to try to do their best.”