EATON — Eaton Middle School Student Kaiden Webb participated in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 26-31.
Webb made it through three rounds of the spelling competition, but did not score high enough on the preliminary test to proceed to the finals.
Webb was also recognized during the Eaton Community Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday, June 10, for his participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
More than 11 million students participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee each year. This year there was a total of 562 spellers at the National Competition. Of that number, 270 advanced by winning their regional spelling bee, while 292 advanced through the RSVBee program. There were nine set of siblings who competed together and 162 return spellers. Texas was the State with the most representation, with 69 spellers.
Ages of spellers ranged from seven to 15, with grades first through eighth represented. The grade level with the largest number of spellers was eighth grade. The majority of competing spellers attend public schools (65 percent).
Webb had to first compete at the local level, where he won the Preble County Spelling Bee. From there he had to take a test to qualify to move onto the Regional Spelling Bee held in Dayton. When he competed in Dayton he tied for sixth place.
“It was interesting to see all the other spellers from the area and how well they could spell,” Webb said.
All who win a Regional Spelling Bee are automatically qualified to move onto the Scripps National Spelling Bee, with expenses paid by sponsors. However, there is a new program which allows students to apply to compete at the National level. Through the RSVBee program, the Scripps National Spelling Bee welcome applications from parents of students attending a school enrolled in the Bee program who won that school’s spelling bee or who formerly participated in the National Finals.
Webb applied through this RSVBee program. When he was accepted, the Webb family wasn’t sure if Kaiden should compete, as they had to pay for their own expenses, but eventually they decided to compete.
“[I wanted to compete at Nationals this year] because I am not guaranteed to win my school spelling bee next year and I don’t know if I will have a chance at winning the Regional. It was about trying to take opportunities now,” he said.
His father, Jerry Webb, added, “He has one more chance next year, do we just wait and try next year. There is no guarantee he will win the school be next year, so we decided to take the opportunity while we knew we had the chance. We wanted him to have that experience to learn and learn how to compete and prepare better for next year.”
For Webb, competing at the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee was a “cool” experience. Bee Week is all week long — competitors register on Sunday and start with a test for Round One on Monday. Throughout the week, activities and different events are held for the competitors.
“There is a lot of camaraderie between the spellers and the officials. A really cool story is just being there when the eight champions were crowned and being in the room watching them,” Webb said.
The finals begin at Round Four, but unfortunately Webb did not score high enough on the preliminary test to proceed to that round. Some of the words he missed on the test included: grok, dissilient, sciapodous, rucervine, epollicate, sobornost, passim, and diel. Vocabulary is also included on the test.
Kaiden Webb ended up tying for 51st place at Scripps National Spelling Bee.
For Jerry Webb, it was “surreal” to see his son compete.
“You see it on ESPN every once in awhile and you hear about it. So few students get to go do that, it was interesting to be in that perspective and get him compete on the same stage as these incredible spelling students. While he was on stage, it is nerve wracking. You hold your breath, because you don’t know what word he is going to get. We were really hoping he would get through Round Three, with this being his first experience on that level. He was able to meet his goal,” Jerry Webb said.
“I think he did incredible. He impresses me with his knowledge. I see him studying, but don’t really know what he is studying or how he is studying. He has blown me away with the words he knows. I think he knows how much he knows, but he always shows me he knows a little more than I thought. He has put in a lot of time and is very disciplined. He enjoys it and I think it is fun to watch him enjoy it.”
Kaiden Webb does plan on participating in the spelling bee next year. His goal is to get to Scripps National Spelling Bee once again and he wants to make it into the top 50 spellers.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH