Studying for the bee

Staff writer

Three Marion 9-year-olds made a pact last week: to help each other prepare for the annual spelling competition.

“I couldn’t have done it without my friends,” said Regina Noonan, winner of the Marion Elementary School spelling bee.

It all started when the Marion trio — Noonan, Jaden Slifer and Macy Sigel — won the spelling competition in their classroom and received a list of words from their fourth-grade teacher. They were then told that they would be given a chance to participate in the school-wide competition.

The group knew that they would only do well if they put a considerable amount of study time in ahead of the competition. So, with only seven days of preparation time available, the Marion students used every possible moment they had to quiz each other on the words.

“We were together a lot,” runner-up Sigel said. “We had to read them, sound them out and try to remember what they looked like. It was hard work.”

On Friday, the three said they entered the gymnasium with butterflies in their stomachs. Mustering all of their courage, each girl approached the microphone with both trepidation and confidence.

“We wanted to go in there knowing that we did all we could to win,” Slifer said. “We studied hard. We worked hard. We knew we might not win, but we also knew that we had tried our best. None of us wanted to go down without a fight.”

But as each round passed, their confidence became more apparent — and each began to have fun in her own way.

Sigel said she had the most fun when she got a word right. After completing her turn, she turned on her heel and began walking back to her seat. Just as she approached her folding chair, she saw that her two friends had their hands out, ready to give her a high five as she sat down.

“I think they were happier for me than I was,” she said, laughing.

Others in the audience noticed the move and commented on the students’ behavior.

“They’re really looking like they’re having fun,” spectator Regina Caldwell said. “I wish I had that attitude when I was in elementary school. They’re being really good sports. You don’t see that too often in kids today.”

Slifer was the first one out in one of the early rounds of the competition.

“I was really nervous,” she said. “I don’t mind that I’m not out there right now. I’m just happy sitting here cheering on my friends. I know that they can win this thing.”

With elbows on her knees, Slifer sat until the bitter end, watching as Noonan and Sigel battled for the top spot.

“You can do it,” she commented under her breath after she saw how much her friends were struggling in the last 15 minutes of the competition. At last, Noonan got her words spelled correctly, earning her the title of the 2013 Marion Elementary School Spelling Bee Champion.

Both Noonan and Sigel will represent the elementary school at the county competition at 10 a.m. Feb. 6.

 

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