District 69 students compete in spelling bee
Philip Rapoport, 14, an eighth grader at Lincoln Junior High School in Skokie, spells "turbulence" to win the Skokie-Morton Grove School District 69 Spelling Bee next to eighth grader Ninos Zaia (seated), 14, of Skokie at the Skokie Public Library on Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 8, 2013 9:24AM
For the second year in a row students at Lincoln Junior High and Edison School competed in the Skokie-Morton Grove Elementary School District 69 spelling bee.
And after the dust settled and the other spellers had missed a word, eighth grader Philip Rapoport was left standing.
Rapoport and second place finisher Ninos Zaia, also an eighth grader, will compete Feb. 16 in a North Cook County spelling bee in Kenilworth.
The winner of that will go to a regional spelling be and the top speller will compete in June in Washington, D.C in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a match carried on ESPN.
A total of 24 District 69 students competed, four from each of grades three through eight.
Lincoln Language Arts teacher Jessica Corrigan started the spelling bee last school year after receiving an email about it.
District 69’s spelling bee, held Jan. 29 at the Skokie Public Library, was held using the rules, words and procedures of the Scripps spelling bee.
The words, in fact, were kept secret except from language arts teacher Deborah Brody who acted as “pronouncer,” providing the words to students and offering definitions and other information to help them.
“There are plenty of reasons that we want our kids to be good spellers,” Corrigan said. “Good spellers are good readers. Reading is a big focus in our district.”
In addition, Corrigan said it’s important for academic competitions to receive the same kind of attention that sports competitions do.
“We want students to take pride in their academic accomplishments,” Corrigan said.
The event, held in the Petty Auditorium, brought out a large crowd of parents and fellow students to cheer or just suffer along with a speller who got stuck on a word.
For Taj and Nisha Bastola, it was a chance to see their third-grader Kashish Bastola complete in the spelling bee.
Although Kashish was knocked out in the second round with the word “oxidize,” they said he had worked hard to prepare.
Like all of the students, Kashish had won classroom and grade level spelling bees.
“He studied until 11 p.m. last night,” Taj Bastola said.
“We are very proud of him,” Nisha Bastola said.
Superintendent Quintin Shepherd, who joined staff and school board members on a panel of judges, said all of the students worked hard to get to the final competition at the library.
“They’ve been preparing and practicing for weeks,” he said.
After each round, students who had misspelled their words walked off the stage, receiving a prize as they left.
When it was down to the end, Rapoport had to get just one more word correct. The word that won him the spelling bee: turbulence.