This weekend one of those annual events occurs which just alerts us all to the many bright young minds in our state. With all the harsh headlines that greet us each day this story is one that we can all feel good about and embrace.
Each year I try to post about the Wisconsin Spelling Bee as it proves how much better these kids are with spelling than I ever will be, and also how much we have to be proud of when looking at our younger generations.
To know that a student who was under pressure and being watched could correctly spell “Beethovenian,” an adjective relating to or characteristic of the famous composer, or “himation,” a type of ancient Greek clothing alerts me to their brightness.
I firmly believe that all the contestants are winners. There is no way someone gets to this level of competition without being bright and most able to think their way through sounding out a word and then placing the letters in the proper order.
I have followed one local 11-year-old student over the past years in the spelling competition simply due to the perfectly charming photo that was used in a 2019 Wisconsin State Journal story. Don’t get me wrong, all the kids are worthy of being singled out for this post. But, truly, who can not root for this smile.
Blessed Sacrament sixth-grader Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya was the winner a few weeks ago in the Madison All-City Spelling Bee. We just know that had there been no need to wear a mask due to the pandemic his smile would have been most photogenic. In 2019, he competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and placed third in the All-City Spelling Bee last year.
Aiden said he’s been studying words for 30 minutes at a time between school, tennis, tae kwon do and piano. He’s been in the spelling bee since third grade, making Saturday’s win “a buildup of things for the last few years.”
Also in competition this year is former winner Maya Jadhav from Vishva Home School. She was featured on this blog following her win at the Madison All-City contest in 2021.
I have been struck, repeatedly, by the effort at learning which these contestants talk about with reporters. Last year I posted the quote from a middle-school student.
Matthew Brock, then 14 and an eighth-grader at Toki Middle School said, “I read a lot and I practiced the study list. Every time I see a word I don’t know, I look up the definition and try to understand whatever the context may be.”
While I enjoy doing crossword puzzles as they are relaxing I would never do many in ink. Having a comfortable feel for words is one thing, but spelling like the champs…well, that is for the top spellers in Wisconsin!
I wish them all the very best as they stand up and do what the vast majority of the rest of us could not do. As always, we also need to send out a thank you to the parents who instill a love of reading and words in their children along with the desire to learn.
Gosh, there are truly many reasons to smile over these young minds.
And so it goes.