HAMMOND | In an era of spell check apps and texting shorthand, eight teams of high school students took on the challenge of spelling multi-syllabic words the time-honored way — with a pencil and paper — during Monday’s Annual Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Senior Division competition.
Based on a list of 3,000 words students studied, the Spell Bowl contest hosted by Gavit Junior/Senior High School included 10 rounds of nine words each including such tongue-twisters as “tremolo,” “homogeneity” and “viviparous.”
One student from a team competed in each round, and was given 15 seconds to write down the spelling after hearing the word pronounced and used in a sentence by Kristen Mitcheltree, a sixth-grade math teacher at Gavit. The number of correct spellings in the 10 rounds accumulated for the school’s final score.
Sponsored by the Indiana Association of School Principals, the Spell Bowl Senior Division competitions are being held at 16 high schools throughout the state. Winners in regional contests will advance to the state finals on Nov. 16 at Purdue University in West Lafayette. Purdue is lead corporate partner of the IASP academic contests.
The eight Lake County schools represented three classes of ninth through12th grade high schools based on enrollments. Schools with similar enrollments compete against one another. Class 1 schools have the largest school population of 1,080 students or more. Class 2 schools have enrollments of 612 to 1,079 students while Class 3 schools have 356 to 611 students enrolled.
Teams from Lake Central High in St. John, Munster High, Lowell High and Merrillville High competed as Class 1 schools.
Hammond’s Gavit High and Hanover Central High in Cedar Lake competed as Class 2 schools, and Class 3 schools Andrean High in Merrillville and River Forest High in Hobart.
Gavit has hosted Academic Spell Bowl Senior Division competitions for the last decade, said Anne Melty-Morrison.
Brannon Geist, a Lowell High junior, said she didn’t do as well in the first round as she had hoped.
“I could barely hear the words,” said Geist, who has competed in past Academic SuperBowl competitions sponsored by the IASP.
Melanie Moore, a sophomore at Andrean High School, said she only spelled four of the nine words in round two correctly. The sound system was problematic, she said.
“This is my first year in the Spell Bowl,” Moore said. “I’d like to be an author of mysteries and thrillers. I plan to go to college at Notre Dame.”
The sound system in the Gavit auditorium had to be adjusted after the third round of the competition because both competitors and teacher-proctors supervising the students complained.