Fifteen students set to compete in spelling bee

On Thursday evening, Will Cawthon pulled a cookbook off the kitchen shelf and asked his mother to start drilling him on the proper spelling of words. For the avid reader and fifth-grade pupil at C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School, any book is an important preparation tool for a spelling bee.

Will and 14 other elementary and middle school pupils will compete in the 2012 Local Qualifying Bee of the Scripps National Spelling Bee held today. According to Scripps, spelling bees help pupils improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage.

Meredith Smith, an instructional coach at C.T. Walker who helps teachers and pupils improve learning skills, said spelling bees aid comprehension across all academic subjects, including science and math.

“There is a strong connection with a child’s level of vocabulary and what they are able to understand across content areas,” she said.

Rather than learning rules and exceptions, it’s more valuable to learn how to recognize spelling patterns and Latin and Greek roots and suffixes, she said.

“As they move into upper grades, as they’re reading a greater variety of texts, they really start looking at the spelling features of words,” Smith said.

The pupils competing today represent public, private and home school from Augusta and the surrounding counties. The contest begins at 10 a.m. in the Morris Auditorium, 725 Broad St. Among the competitors is Rachael Cundey, a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School. Rachael has won the regional spelling bee, sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle, for the past three years.

The winner of today’s event will go to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 27 through June 1.

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