Pandey Again Wins Twain Spelling Bee

Listening carefully to student Andrew Kai at the Mark Twain spelling bee are judges (from left) school nurse Tera Gombas, vocal music teacher Debbie Stinson and teacher's aide Maria Bradford. (All photos by Steve Bowman)
Listening carefully to student Andrew Kai at the Mark Twain spelling bee are judges (from left) school nurse Tera Gombas, vocal music teacher Debbie Stinson and teacher’s aide Maria Bradford. (All photos by Steve Bowman)

Fourth grader advances to regional bee at McKendree

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
email: bowmansj@sbcglobal.net

Third grader Haven White
Third grader Haven White

For the second year in a row, Varun Pandey is the spelling bee champion of Mark Twain Elementary School.

At first it looked like he might win easily, when the field of 29 spellers was cut down to three in only six rounds. But it took the fourth grader five more grueling rounds to win, as he went toe-to-toe with fifth graders Joseph Blase and Eric O’Neal.

O’Neal was eliminated in round 9. Blase and Pandey both misspelled their words in round 10 before Pandey won with “merge.” It was a comparatively easy word in a spelling bee that included such toughies as duvet, wraith, thyme, whip-poor-will and nihilism.

“The toughest word for me was ‘disentangle,’” said Pandey, who is a student in Anne Mitchell’s class.

From a group of 29 contestants, three finalists emerge (from left): Varun Pandey, Joseph Blase and Eric O'Neal.
From a group of 29 contestants, three finalists emerge (from left): Varun Pandey, Joseph Blase and Eric O’Neal.

Pandey is among several hundred school champions in the region who will advance to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Spelling Bee at McKendree University in Lebanon, Ill. He will take a written spelling test there on March 7 and if he scores high enough he’ll return for an oral test on March 14. The winner at McKendree goes to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May. The last Brentwood resident to reach the national bee was fifth-grader Rounak Bera in 2011.

McGrath Elementary School’s spelling bee champion, who will be determined on Jan. 23, will also compete at McKendree.

The spelling bee was held in the school gym on Tuesday morning.
The spelling bee is held in the school gym, with the three judges sitting across from the contestants.
The moderator for the spelling was school librarian Kimberly Robertson.
Moderator Kimberly Robertson, the school’s librarian, reads a word for a student.
Third grader Sarai Lesley
Third grader Sarai Lesley
Fifth grader Griffiin Krause
Fifth grader Griffiin Krause
Third grader Amelia Favazza
Third grader Amelia Favazza
Austin Hammann, a fifth grader, smiles with relief after surviving another round.
Austin Hammann, a fifth grader, smiles with relief after surviving another round.
Fourth grader Domonique Taylor
Fourth grader Domonique Taylor
Third grader Adrian Sabeh spells a word for moderator Kimberly Robertson.
Third grader Adrian Sabeh spells a word for moderator Kimberly Robertson.
Ava Amad of the third grade
Ava Amad of the third grade
Alex Mayer, third grader
Alex Mayer, third grader
Third grader Andrew Kai
Third grader Andrew Kai
Fifth grader Justine Favazza
Fifth grader Justine Favazza
Abigail Ressner of the fourth grade
Abigail Ressner of the fourth grade
DSC_5734 Kim Robertson, Varun Pandey, Joseph Blase, Eric ONeal
Kimberly Robertson with the top three finishers (from left) Varun Pandey, Joseph Blase and Eric O’Neal.

 

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