On March 20, at Daniel Morgan Middle School, three children and their families from Clarke County, arrived at 6:15 for a 7:00 start to participate in the Regional Spelling Bee. To their shock and dismay, the bee had commenced at 5:30. Due to the late hour, they were not allowed to participate in the competition.
As a community member, I take the spelling bee seriously. It is the only event in the school system that is connected to a national competition and has been an annual event since 1925.
The Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational promotion, administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Now, the real question is, why did these families not receive the proper time for the Spelling Bee? All other participants from Winchester, Frederick and Warren Counties were there…on time. According to one parent, they were phoned on March 15 and told that the event started at 7:00 pm.
This reflects very badly on Clarke County Public Schools and on its Director of Curriculum, who did not take this event seriously enough to get the correct information to the students and their families. Many, many hours had been spent in preparing for this event. There is no excuse for such sloppy behavior! The 8th graders will never get another chance to compete since his is the last year of eligibility. What do the students learn from this? Incompetency is acceptable for an administrator? A hurried apology is all that it takes to make things right? Just use “Spell Check” and everything will be fine? Trivializing the spelling bee is an acceptable response?