5/6 team: Shayna Larrow,  Nisha Shah, Marlee McDermott, Kelly Xu, Colin Belisle and Alexander Haag

7/8 team:  Jack Laub,Kailei Eustis, Kayley Yang,Lori Lustberg - ad hoc coach, Liam Lustberg, Ryan Hockenbury, Ben Knudsen

State C•h•a•m•p•i•o•n•s

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Thursday December 05, 2013

Can you spell “paraphernalia” or “vicissitude” without relying on spell check? The spelling teams from Tuttle Middle School can! These challenging words were not enough to stump the Tuttle teams at the Vermont Principal’s Spelling Bee held November 16, at the Northfield Middle/High School in Northfield, Vermont.

This year, the hard work of both the grades 5/6 and 7/8 teams was rewarded when they each won the state championships! 5/6 took second last year and 7/8 won the state last year as well, with the same students returning for the win. Edith Ainsley, who coached both teams this year, explained that the students practiced for 40 minute stints approximately 12 times either before or after school to achieve this feat.Tuttle hosted the regional competition this year on November 2; six 5/6 teams from the area competed. The Tuttle 5/6 team “eeked a win, narrowly over Mary Hogan Elementary School of Middlebury” according to Ainsley.

The 7/8 team was one of three competing in the region and they also won by a narrow margin, but this changed when they arrived for the state competition and won handily over Manchester by a 10 point margin. “The 7/8 team were all veterans and work together incredibly well,” Ainsley said, “They largely decided their own strategy as they know their strengths and temperaments.”

At the state competition,the 5/6 team won over Manchester as well by a lead of 6 points. The 5/6 team was comprised largely of students new to competition with only one experienced veteran. “They pulled together fabulously,” Ainsley said, “Several really rose to the challenge of competition over the routine of our practices and all will be returning to the team next year, except Nisha who will join the 7/8 team. Tuttle teams should do really well next year.”

How does the competition work? The competition for both groups consists of 12 rounds. Four team players are seated at a time.  Alternates are allowed to be seated between rounds 4 and 5 and 8 and 9. At the end of each round one player from each team is given a bonus word. These words are previously unpublished and are worth twice as many points. If all the teams are equally prepared and make no mistakes on the practiced words, the competition can come down to the bonus words. “Our students do quite well with the bonus words overall” Ainsley said. They boast more than a 50% success rate.

Unfortunately, on competition day, Ainsley was unable to accompany the teams due to  illness, but luckily parents stepped up to coach and transport students to competition. “Shayna Larrow’s parents, and Jennifer Belisle, an elementary school teacher in our district and Colin’s mother, shepherded the team to their state win.  I was texting and emailing from my home...but they ran the kids. For the 7/8 team, Lori Lustberg, Liam’s mom, offered to act as the ad hoccoach while the team largely monitored their own progress and strategy” Ainsley said.

When one considers the fact that spell check has become easier to access than ever, the commitment these students put into their love of language is nothing short of remarkable. “This is a wonderful group of kids,” Ainsley remarked, “bright, articulate, exacting and remarkably supportive and kind to one another.  While they compete for all the right reasons, they are friends and fellow scholars first.  Each has made mistakes and each has saved the team, again and again and again. There’s no better way to spend an early morning than with kids jousting with language.  It’s just wonderful!”

Kudos to this year’s state champion teams!

SOURCE: Corey BurdicK, Correspondent