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How Do You Spell...

Island Trees’ David Wendt competes for Scripps Regional Spelling Bee crown

In the age of “spell-check” and “auto-correct” the accurate spelling of words independently from smart phones and computers seems to no longer be of relevance. However the tradition of the spelling bee still reigns. 

Recently, students from schools across Nassau and Suffolk County competed for the winning title of the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee at Hofstra University. Participants from grades 4 through 8 competed in hopes of advancing to the National Bee in Washington D.C. later this spring. Anxiously sitting under stage lights and fidgeting in their seats, students waved to reassuring faces in the audience. 

For Island Trees middle schooler David Wendt, his accomplishment was making it all the way to the final top seven spellers. Wendt prepared for the Bee “every single night for a month.  It was a lot of work,” the 11-year-old said. 

Even still, he still felt the pressure. “In the beginning I was nervous but as I was advancing through the rounds I was getting more confident each time I got a word right,” he said. With support in the crowd like mom Lisa and best friend Sohrab, Wendt left feeling proud of himself. As for a celebration, they headed straight to Friendly’s for “the biggest, messiest ice cream sundae,” said mom Lisa.

“It’s a little like a Broadway show,” said Melissa Connolly, the Vice President of University Relations of Hofstra, who conducted the competition.  The Bee is a live event so there is plenty of room for mistakes. It’s that “nerve-wracking nature” that she likes as well as seeing the kids accomplish something they didn’t think they could. “It’s a hard thing to do,” Connolly said.

During the preliminary round students were asked to introduce themselves before spelling their word. The personalities of the different spellers were showcased. Some nervously approached the microphone, eyes on the ground, hair covering their faces and feet dragging on the floor, while others, like one young boy, confidently glided to the front of the stage proudly standing in front of the audience. “Good morning people!” he said brightly, breaking the intense nature of the competition and gaining a chuckle from the crowd. 

The way in which students spell and perform varies. Each participant has different methods of spelling the words, explained head judge and moderator, Dr. Carole Clark Papper. “Some are visualizers,” she said. “Some will tap the rhythm on their leg or write with their fingers on their hands.” 

The preliminary round started off with words like “balcony” and “manicure.” The pronouncer, and head of journalism at Hofstra University, Bob Papper, said that much of the competition is “just luck of the draw.” Sometimes an older student may have a seemingly easier word than the next speller but Papper says he follows the word list generated by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

A loud and swift ring of a bell was the indicator that the word was misspelled. Some students let out an audible sigh of relief or disappointment after completing the word. Chocolate chip cookies and apple juice were waiting backstage to comfort those who had just lost.

Towards the end of the day after an hour break the remaining few contestants went back on stage until there was a winner. Some were visibly tired, fidgeting in their seats and slouched over with their arms resting on their knees. Head judge and moderator of the event, Dr. Papper, says she could feel the tension of the students. “I get so stressed out for them,” explained the mother of four. “I like seeing them accomplish something,” she added. 

This year’s winner was Setauket 8th-grader Isabelle Scott. Scott beat 99 other competitors for the regional title. Scott will go on to compete on the national level in Washington D.C. this spring. 

News

The Levittown Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual Fire Prevention Open House on Friday, Oct. 10. The event will be held at the Gardiners Ave. Fire Headquarters from 6 to 9 p.m. 

 

October is designated as the National Fire Prevention Month. Every year, during the month of October the Levittown Fire Department Fire Prevention Committee visits all the schools in the fire district teaching and re-enforcing fire safety. In the United States every year, fires in homes are the cause of the largest loss of life and serious injuries. World wide, the United

States is at the top of the list for the most lives lost. This, even when all the fire departments across the country strive to get the fire safety message out, often giving out free smoke detectors.

Long Island Democrat David Denenberg has dropped out of the race for state Senate, after recent accusations that the Nassau County Legislator fraudulently billed his own law firm—

Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron—over $2 million for non-existent case work. According to published reports, Denenberg stated, “My family, the electorate, the campaign and this position are way too important to subject myself to such outrageous allegations and negative attacks against me personally. Therefore I withdraw from the race.”


Sports

Ex-college pugilist continues ring comeback for charity

The Long Island Fight for Charity will be hosting its 11th annual Charity Boxing Event on Nov. 24 at the Hilton in Melville. Among the 20 volunteers will be Levittown native Stefan Borovina, who will be fighting under the nickname “Lights Out.”  Borovina is the business manager at RMB Electric in Farmingdale. 

 

He also participated in the event last year, after a friend from his high school wrestling team informed him. Borovina jumped at the opportunity, having had a history in the boxing ring at the University of Notre Dame.

Men’s Farmingdale State College Soccer update (3-6, 0-1 Skyline)

 

The men’s soccer team fell in both matches last week - 4-3 vs. Staten Island (2 OT) and 3-2 at Mount Saint Mary (OT). Junior midfielder J.T. Famularo (Levittown) was named to the Skyline Honor Roll. Famularo recorded a team-leading three goals last week. He scored two versus Staten Island and added one goal in the OT loss at MSMC.


Calendar

Island Trees PTA - October 1

Towns E-Cycle - October 5

Levittown SEPTA Meeting - October 6


Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com