Perry Township Schools
Spelling is an important part of a child’s education in Perry Township. Every fall our elementary schools participate in Spell Bowl competitions that support and emphasize the need for this skill. Spell Bowl, a team competition in which the words are written, is not the same as a spelling bee, an individual competition with the words spelled orally.
A Spell Bowl competition consists of eight rounds of seven words with a different team member competing in each round. The 750 words come from a list published by the Indiana Association of School Principals; lists rotate annually. Teams come from our 11 elementary schools, with eight members representing Grades 4 and 5.
At the competition a word is read by an emcee, used in a sentence and pronounced again. The emcee says begin and participants write the word on an answer sheet within a 20-second time limit. The word is scored by a proctor, and the cycle repeats itself.
All of our elementary schools participated in the recent township competition. The team from MacArthur placed first, spelling 44-of-50 words correctly in 10 rounds of competition. Lincoln and Homecroft tied for second before Lincoln won the tiebreaker.
Spell Bowl training is intense. Our students have been studying hard to learn the 750 challenging words. Practice began in August, and some of our teams even met over fall break.
Our coaches are doing a great job motivating these groups. Preparation and incentives are creative and include activities like writing in shaving cream, spelling outside with sidewalk chalk, mock competitions and partner quizzes.
At Clinton Young, team members are participating in “An Amazing Race” where they will go around the building after school to practice tricky words as they follow directions to different locations.
Makayla Owens, a fifth-grader, commented on her favorite activity, “I like to practice our words in the gym because we get to be so active.”
Fourth-grader Michael Gil raised the bar by filling up a whole Spell Bowl journal and writing an additional 1,620 words in one week.
Students have favorite words, and Audra Barclay’s pet one is “czar,” which she actually got at the competition. She was so excited.
Children receive support and recognition during announcements, in school bulletins, at pep rallies and at special lunches with principals (pupils must spell for their food). There are “Keep Calm and Spell” T-shirts, spirit buttons and cafeteria walls dedicated to Spell Bowl. There are even spell-offs against teachers.
Teams bond before competitions with a pizza party or by lunching together. One coach provides team members a good luck charm, and another bought hair bows for the girls to wear and bow ties for the boys.
We look forward to competing against 30 teams at the statewide Spell Bowl at 6 p.m. Thursday at Southport High School, 971 E. Banta Road. The event is open to the public.