Anybody out there ever watch the National Spelling Bee? It is as intense as any major sporting event, and this year was no exception. If you haven't ever taken the time to indulge, do. From the Associated Press:

...13-year-old (Sameer Mishra) from West Lafayette, Ind., who often had the audience laughing with his one-line commentaries, was all business when he aced "guerdon" — a word that appropriately means "something that one has earned or gained" — to win the 81st version of the bee Friday night.


Sameer, appearing in the bee for the fourth time and a top 20 finisher the last two years, clenched both fists and put his hands to his face after spelling the winning word. He won a tense duel over first-time participant Sidharth Chand, 12, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who finally stumbled on "prosopopoeia," a word describing a type of figure of speech.


...The first-place finish won him $35,000 in cash and more than $5,000 in other prizes.

So who knew spelling could be so lucrative? You might want to point this out to your kids as they're practicing for their weekly tests.
Here's a short video.

And then there's this, from
the Chronicle:

As if spelling obscure, multisyllabic words in a single language wasn't difficult enough, 25 students from schools in Houston and Mexico competed Saturday in a bilingual spelling bee.

...The third- through sixth-grade competitors in the Maseca Bilingual Spelling Bee at Houston Baptist University were asked to spell words in Spanish, including the accent marks. They then had to translate the word and spell it in English.

...The bee originated 13 years ago in Ricardo Paras' fifth-grade bilingual class at Mission West Elementary School in the Fort Bend school district. He was disappointed when he learned that his Hispanic students were leery of participating in the school's regular spelling bee.

They were intrigued when he promised to start up a bilingual bee. From there, the idea flourished and in 1997, he organized his first regional spelling bee. Soon, students from other countries, including Mexico and Costa Rica, were attracted to the bee. Eight of the competitors in Saturday's bee were from schools in Mexico.

"I want not only Hispanic kids, but I want all of our children to be bilingual ... to have that global advantage," Paras said. "We want the kids to be proficient in both languages."

...The winner breezed through her last two words. Eleven-year-old Bianca Jun Im of Mexico City accurately spelled "rehén," which means "hostage," and "cocinero," or "cook."

I think that's a pretty cool idea. I took quite a few years of high school and college level Spanish and can communicate but am nowhere close to fluent. I wish I would have started learning the Spanish language and others a lot earlier in life.

With so many Spanish speakers here in Texas and literally a whole Spanish speaking world just across the Rio Grande stretching to the tip of South America, I think it would be a smart thing if our kids could all communicate with so many more people who inhabit our world.

Both stories show that academics are cool and can be pretty competitive, a lesson all of our kids should be taught.

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