Monday, February 9, 2009
"Diphthong?" That's what the poor girl muttered in the photo above before burying her head in her hands. The girl was bright and very animated in her gestures and responses on stage. She drew a quick fondness from the other parents and family members in the audience. It seemed very unfair that the word she drew in the latter rounds of the spelling bee was much more difficult than the competition around her. Needless to say she misspelled the word and it broke her heart, and everyone else's in the room.
Such was a brief moment in the 2009 Washington County Spelling Bee on Saturday. I haven't shot a spelling bee in a while. I enjoyed it as an opportunity to get some great, emotional photos.
These poor kids, the brightest spellers in their schools, were under immense pressure, probably more than they've ever faced in their lives to this point. Some cried. Some just shrugged their shoulders and walked off the stage. Some showed no emotion whatsoever. All of them though did have their parents arms to retreat to once eliminated. "Good job! I'm proud of you!," was the common phrase repeated softly throughout the room.
The end of the spelling bee, 10 rounds in all, was very anticlimactic. The room was all but empty as most of the eliminated contestants and their families vacated the room at the Fayetteville Public Library following the conclusion of each round. The winner, a very calm, almost emotionless Chinese teenager easily spelled "adjoining," was congratulated by the runner-up and it was all over. I know a spelling bee isn't a rock show, but after all of the tension in the air during the course of the event you'd think they could've at least thrown confetti or dropped balloons from the ceiling at the end. Maybe they save that for the state spelling bee in Little Rock.
Posted by Marc F. Henning at 1:14 PM