Hear it, say it, spell it at the City-wide Spelling Bee. Open to students in grades 2 through 5, the annual event gives kids the opportunity to show off their spelling skills.

“While most of the spellers tend to come from Rochester, the bee is open to any student from any school — home school, Byron, Eyota,” said Kathy Jensen, event organizer and Optimist Club member.

Co-sponsored by the Century Octagon Club, Rochester Optimist Club, Community Education, and the Century National Honor Society, students must register prior to the event — no registration on-site or the day of the event. The day of the event, students arrive and sign in. Then it’s time to head down to the spelling rooms.

“The rooms are divided by grade. Kids will be competing with kids in their own grade,” said Jensen. “There’s typically a maximum of 20 kids per room, with somewhere between 90 and 110 kids total in the bee.”

Then it’s time to spell. With a judge and a director (and an audience of parents) in each room, kids line up. Spell the word right, get back in line. Misspell, head out of the room into the consolation room for an opportunity to continue spelling.

“There is a list of grade-specific spelling words available on the Community Education website. Kids will be asked to spell these and other words,” said Jensen. “We usually spell until there are six students left (in each age group). At the end of the bee there is an awards ceremony where first through sixth place get an award.”

Register through Community Education. Cost is $7. Scholarships available.

“This is a local spelling bee. There is no next level of spelling bee that the winners move on to. It is a great experience,” said Jensen. “You get to stand up in front of people and compete. There’s really no pressure from the judges or the people in the room.”

Lindy Lange is a licensed school social worker. Family Time appears every Wednesday. Up next: Things may get a little prickly at Zollman Zoo’s All About Porcupines.

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