For the second year in a row, Northley Middle School eighth grader Sheryas Parab captured the title of Delaware County’s Best Speller and will again represent the county in May at the Scripps National Spelling Bee outside Washington, DC.
Parab bested 23 other spellers on Saturday at the fifth annual Spirit/Scripps Delaware County Spelling Bee sponsored by the Chester/Community Spirit and hosted by Neumann University.
All the contestants worked hard, winning spelling bees in their local schools to earn a spot in the county Bee. The top two spellers from local schools representing several school districts and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia went head-to-head in a competition lasting nine rounds in about two hours.
Placing second on Saturday was Kramoh Mansalay, a Darby Township School sixth grader; and placing third was Northley Middle School sixth grader Bridget Duffy. Mansalay and Duffy both won a host of prizes, including Merriam-Webster Collegiate and International dictionaries — but only Parab will go to the national stage. Since 1946, the national Bee has been televised and will likely be seen again on ESPN.
For the final three contestants the competition was intense but quick. The event’s pronouncer, Neilda Mott, a recently retired official with the Chester Education Foundation and coordinator of the Delaware County Communities That Care (CTC) Network, was impressed by the contestants’ level of preparedness.
“They’re really good and I appreciate all the work they put into understanding the way things are spelled in Greek and Latin and understanding the etymology of the word,” praised Mott. “They were all really great. I know that Delaware County will be well represented and I hope we take the winner.”
Second place winner Mansalay said he enjoyed the experience and hopes to come back and win. He said he will continue studying until the next Bee.
“I’ve been doing a lot of studying very close to the competition and, to be truthful, my teacher has allowed me to use some of her computers at her classroom to study so I’ve been reading a lot of the words, memorizing them and then going online to do spelling tests,” said Mansalay. “I plan on having a lot of studying done so that I can stay in my position or get higher.”
The challenging word for him was “infirmary.” He said it was just too difficult to figure out.
“I was thinking of cable; Xfinity but I couldn’t figure out anything for that though,” laughed Mansalay.
Third place winner Duffy said studying was a little difficult due to time constraints but she, too, plans to come back in hopes of winning. The challenging word for her was “lieutenant.”
“We looked on the list afterward and we still can’t find it on there, so maybe I didn’t study it because it wasn’t there or I missed it,” said Duffy. “Next time, I hope I have a little more time to study. It was hard to figure out the exact way I wanted to study. Next year I’m going to use the same method that I ended up doing.”
The official Scripps word list comes from the millions of actual words in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and any one of them is considered fair game to be used at a Bee.
Parab, the first place winner and now a veteran, is looking forward to returning to Washington D.C. for the national Scripps competition in May and hopes to see old friends from last year.
“I hope to meet the people I met last year. I’ve learned so many words and studied hard and it’s all the experience. I guess. Meeting new people there and getting to do the fun things they have planned there,” said Parab.
Although, he plans to have fun there, he also hopes to be the national winner who takes home prizes and scholarships worth more than $30,000.
“I’m in the eighth grade so this is the last time (he can participate at the county or national level),” said Parab. “I think this is the one. Save the best for last.”
The original Bee started in 1926 as collaboration between nine newspapers and today boasts 250 international sponsors with contestants coming from every state and several countries including Africa, South Korea, Jamaica, China and Europe.
The Spirit is one of just 250 international sponsors and one of just three African-American-owned newspaper sponsor-companies.
Scripps National Spelling Bee is sponsored by E.W. Scripps, the multi-media company, and remains the largest and longest-running educational promotion in the world. Its goal is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.