41 finalists vie in Paris Spelling Bee championship
Molly Dugan wins Cheetahs and
Minsung Cho wins Gazelles
Forty-one finalists competed in the sixth annual Paris Spelling Bee at the American University of Paris on Sunday, April 7. Spellers in the third to fifth grade (CE2 to CM2) competed in the Gazelles division, while sixth- to eighth-graders (6èmes-4èmes) vied for the Cheetahs title.
In the Cheetahs division, 12-year-old Molly Dugan from Ecole Massillon took first prize, while Adhya Sharma and Shreya Smitha from the International School of Paris tied for second place. The three sixth-graders lasted 31 rounds before Dugan won by spelling `mnemonic.’ Before that, she fielded words including accomplice, paramecium, subterranean, psychoanalysis and oxymoron. Sharma, who placed second in the Gazelles division at last year’s Bee, correctly spelled words including adjudicate, circuitous, clandestine and anticoagulant, before missing genealogy. Shreya handled words such as quarantine, omniscient, hysterical, adolescence and photosynthesis before stumbling on chrysalis.
Eighth-grader Hari O’Neil from Collège Camille Sèe and sixth-grader Inuri Tennakoon from Collège André Malraux hung on until the 23rd round, tying for third place, before the final three spellers battled it out.
In the Gazelles division, Minsung Cho, a fifth-grader from Ecole Active Bilingue Victor Hugo, took the first-place trophy by spelling benignant correctly in round twenty-nine. Fourth-grader Elliot Alibert from Ècole Elèmentaire Jacques Jorissen placed second. Third-grader Charlotte Kundi
from Ecole Notre Dame and fourth-grader Vaishnavi Sridhar from the International School of Paris tied for third, just ahead of third-grader Alex Ravel from Ecole Active Bilingue Jeannine Manuel.
Cho fielded words such as interrupt, aught, formidable, incorruptible, exhale, autumn, applause and bereaved, while Elliot correctly spelled haversack, prospective, meticulous, bandersnatch, esteem and exercise. Cho and Alibert are 11 years old.
Before the competition began, spellers and guests were greeted with a video message from Dr. Jacques Bailly, the official pronouncer of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States. “Je vous souhaite bonne chance,” said Dr. Bailly, who won the 1980 Scripps championship.
Dr. Geoffrey Gilbert, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the American University of Paris, welcomed the contestants on behalf of the university. He spoke of the importance and pleasure of words’ origins in giving access not only to the history of a language but also to ways of feeling and thinking that can be a resource as we face the baffling complexities of contemporary global experience.
The Paris Spelling Bee thanks all 99 contestants from almost 40 schools in and around Paris who participated in the Preliminary Written Round on February 4, and all the spellers who continued on to the Oral Finals.
The Paris Spelling Bee is a community enrichment event organized by Gifted in France in collaboration with The American Library in Paris. The American University of Paris hosted the event for the third year in a row. Pronouncers for the Gazelles were Charlie Trueheart, director of the American Library in Paris, and Celeste Rhoads, the library’s Children and Teen Librarian. Naida Culshaw was the pronouncer for the Cheetahs.
A Spelling Bee requires contestants to spell a word out loud correctly; the winner is declared when she or he is the only person to spell a word correctly in a round. Words for the Paris Spelling Bee’s Oral Finals were taken from “Spell It!” an official study guide published by Scripps National Spelling Bee in the United States in cooperation with Merriam-Webster, Inc. The list is often used in regional spelling bees in the United States and features US spelling.
In addition to a trophy, the first-place winners in each division received a one-year family
membership to the American Library in Paris along with an ALP tote bag. Second-place winners also received a trophy and a tote bag from the library. The International Herald Tribune donated a copy of “120 years of Front Page News: 1887-2007,” to each finalist plus delivered the weekend paper for members of the audience.
Gifted in France provided the trophies plus medals and certificates for finalists. For each participant, the American Library in Paris kindly gave a book, and Paris Spelling Bee volunteer Kim Siew Ngoh prepared homemade treats. Marc Labat provided designer watches to every finalist.
Starbucks generously donated coffee, pastries and other treats for the audience at the Oral Finals.
Heartfelt thanks go to our Spelling Bee Team: Ashley B. Miller, Naida Culshaw; Kim Siew Ngoh; Pauline Lemasson, Jude Smith Matisse, Amy O’Hara,
Karen Simpson, Amy Bereiter, Bettina de Catalogne, Rose Burke and Janet Sahin in the US.
Many thanks also to Dr. Celeste Schenck and Susan Mackay of the AUP; Celeste Rhoads; Mathieu Motta, Phillip von Eiff, Frank Connelly, Laetitia Nail, Cecilia Baron, Stuart Culshaw, Josh Hakim, Elizabeth Farhi, Ursula Liu, John Newman, Matt Benz, Lee Lee Camilleri, Julie Casara, Anita Youngblood, Emma Burke, Eloise Loh, Hazel Tan, Loretta Fox, David Whitehouse, Monia Hamani, Shannon Connelly, Julia Connelly and Chrise de Tournay Birkhahn.
A special thanks to all the families and schools who have supported the PSB over the last six years.
Here’s an interesting and humorous blog, maternal dementia, written by a parent who blogs about life and motherhood in Paris. This entry is about her daughter’s experience, as a four time participant in the Paris Spelling Bee, before taking the winning title in the Cheetah’s division.
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Helen Sahin Connelly
Coordinator, Paris Spelling Bee
Highlights, more pictures to come: