Tough competitors, weather delay spell trouble for Harford County bee

March 13, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

D-E-L-A-Y-E-D

Definition: 1. Put off to a future time; postponed. 2. Made late.

Usage: The final round of the sixth annual Harford County spelling bee was delayed Thursday because of the one-hour delayed opening of school and the delayed arrival of a bus.

Sixty students from eight public middle schools and four private schools went through two preliminary spelling rounds last week before organizers decided there wasn't enough time to finish the spelling bee.

The 30 finalists will square off Tuesday morning at Magnolia Middle School in Joppa, where the first matches were held.

"It's more time for them to study the words," said Patricia Parkes, spelling bee coordinator for Harford Christian School in Dublin and mother of sixth-grader Ryan, who will compete in the next round.

"The good news is we had some excellent spellers," said Sandra L. Wallis, supervisor of English/language arts for Harford County schools. "We've never had so many rounds."

The students in grades six, seven and eight had already proven themselves as winners in local school bees. At the county match Thursday, they spelled words like sulkily, hemisphere, impair and parallax in front of an audience of fellow students, teachers, parents and local TV crews.

Pronouncer George Brown, a social studies teacher at Southampton Middle School in Bel Air, carefully enunciated each word, gave its definition and then used it in a sentence.

Sometimes, the students spoke confidently into the microphone; occasionally, they fidgeted over syllables; and, as the words became more difficult, they made valiant attempts with sneaky vowel and consonant blends before leaving the stage in defeat.

"I don't know who it's more nerve-racking for," said Peggy Gorman, the mother of Noel, a sixth-grader at Fallston Middle School. "We just held our breath."

Noel did her part, though, and will return for the finals.

The winner of that match will compete in June in the national spelling bee in Washington, sponsored by Scripps Howard Newspapers. The student will spend a week in the capital, Ms. Wallis said.

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