Bringing back Bee memories

With the help of movies like ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ and the televised broadcast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Spelling Bee phenomenon is growing and everyone wants to take a part in it.

I attended Mountain View School District’s second annual District Spelling Bee Thursday afternoon at Madrid Middle School in El Monte.

And even though it’s been over 20 years, it brought back memories of when I was in a district spelling bee in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Back then, it wasn’t as big of a deal as it is now. But I’m glad it has grown since, it’s fun and a way for students to participate in something exciting and educational. I’m glad I was able to take part in something like that at a young age.

Alot of my memories are fuzzy, but I remember winning a spelling bee in my grade level, moving on to the schoolwide contest and then moving on to the next level, which meant I was going to visit another school for the next competition.

I remember feeling excited about something outside of my school, it felt like it was something bigger than me, bigger than the school.

When I saw the students at the competition on Thursday – sitting up there, confused, nervous and anxious, I empathized with them.

I actually did know what they were feeling at that moment.

I remember the butterflies in my tummy when I know my turn was coming up and I’m trying to focus but the hundreds of words I practiced beforehand are getting all mixed up in my brain.

Stepping up to the microphone, trying to drown out the fuzzy noise in my head, as I try to listen to every syllable in the word that is given to me.

Then repeating the word over and over in my head, while at the same time telling myself ‘Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up!’

Then trying not to trip over my dry tongue as I repeat the word without thinking, and attempting to spell it as I keep repeating it in my head, syllable by syllable, to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

And the relief I felt when I didn’t hear ‘incorrect’, so I could keep going to the next round and closer to the grand prize.

But of course, I got my 15 minutes of fame in the spelling bee world, and was eliminated after the fourth or fifth round.

I remember thinking I would never forget that word I misspelled that fateful day years ago.

But I guess it was just too much for me at the time, and things got fuzzy after that, that til this day, I still can’t, for the life of me, remember what the evil word was!

Yes, at the time it was an evil word for me. Just like ‘flippant’ will forever haunt the second place contestant in Thursday’s spelling bee.

The winner will move on to the County Spelling Bee and who knows? Maybe we’ll see Isabella Coita, 10, in the next National Spelling Bee.

As for me, I’ll settle for being a Scrabble queen!