We spent this morning at the Indian River School District Spelling Bee where Christina was a contestant in the fifth grade division. She was one of the top four spellers in fifth grade at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts and so was sent to the District-wide contest as one of the representatives of her school.
I was loosely familiar with this event. Christina's older sister Colleen was a contestant herself one year.
Christina did well; she lasted past the preliminary rounds but stumbled on a word that, without the pressure of competition, she would have spelled correctly. She came out into the audience to sit with us and spelled almost every subsequent word in the contest correctly in a whispered aside to her mother and me.
An SDSA classmate of Christina's was the winner. He was a strong speller, though the young man who placed second seemed the more confident. I think that confidence proved to be his downfall. Almost all the others took advantage of their right to write down the word to see the spelling before answering to the judges. This kid never touched pencil to paper; in each round he simply paused in thought and then spelled his words. I believe the lack of the letter he dropped from "influence" would have been obvious to him had he written it out first.
I was pleased to see that the final five spellers were all boys. It may be an erroneous stereotype, but I would have expected the girls to be the better spellers. I'm glad I was proven wrong.