January 11, 2017 02:42AM
By Anna Maria Della Costa
Sun staff writer
STONINGTON — Emma Boudreaux froze for a few seconds while spelling the word “nonsense.” And she kind of guessed on the ending of “perpetrator.”
But during the 20th round of the third annual Pawcatuck Middle School Scripps Spelling Bee, after spellers exhausted Scripps’ official list of words and the panel of judges turned to another “secret” list, Emma had a pretty good idea of how the bee would end.
“I was kind of worried about the second list because I didn’t know what to expect,” the eighth-grader said. “But then I got ‘tiptoe,’ and I knew.”
Not only did the 13-year-old correctly spell “tiptoe” Tuesday morning in the school’s gym, she clinched the championship by correctly spelling “warbler” — outspelling 26 other fifth- through eighth-graders during the record-setting bee.
“I just studied a lot,” Emma said. “I practiced a few words each night and also practiced a lot with my friends.”
Pawcatuck Middle’s bee came down to Emma, who will now compete in a regional competition, and fifth-grader Andrew Longolucco. The pair battled through a few rounds before Andrew tripped over “ringlet.”
“I don’t even know what that is,” said Andrew, 10, one of the bee’s more spirited contenders, “but I know I don’t like it now.”
Andrew gave a thumbs-up to bee pronouncer Tim Smith, also the school’s principal, before spelling each of his words.
“I thought that being a fifth-grader going up against seventh- and eighth-graders I would be one of the first out,” Andrew said. “I proved myself wrong. I’m really happy how I did, and I appreciated the opportunity.”
With parents looking on, three rows of students competed for close to two hours Tuesday — it’s the first time Pawcatuck Middle’s contest went 20 rounds.
Students high-fived each other after correctly spelling a variety of words that included prestidigitation, constabulary and pugnacious.
“We have excellent spellers, and I know a lot of these kids are huge readers,” Elaine Temel, a judge and fifth-grade language arts and social studies teacher, said. “We didn’t practice a lot with them, so they were mostly on their own.”
Many of the competitors practiced together the last few weeks and in the minutes leading up to the start of the bee, sitting in the hallway going over words.
“The No. 1 word I would use as the key to being a good speller is ‘practice,’” Andrew said. “I listened to the words, looked over the words, and the words I had trouble with I wrote down on notecards and studied them again.”