Some matchup last night, arguably the biggest of the year. When you get the best spellers from eight schools in the same room, you know there’s going to be some terrific performances.

Uh huh, last night was the local Spell Bowl! After serving as an alternate last year, M was selected to represent the St. P’s sixth graders this year. The weird thing is, she refused to talk about it with us beforehand. We found out she was picked two weeks ago. When I asked her about it, she just shrugged and acted disinterested. Each time we asked her for details – when is it, how does it work, does she have a list of words she could be studying, can we help her – she would just mumble “I don’t know,” or some other dismissive response.

So we went into last night totally clueless as to what the process was.

As the name indicates, this was not a spelling bee. Kids didn’t stand before the audience and spell words out loud and then wait to hear a bell or buzzer to learn their fate. Instead, the eight schools had teams consisting of one kid per grade, from fourth to eighth. Each grade took turns listening to seven words, writing them on a form, and then turning them in for judging. It went in reverse grade order, so fourth grade kicked things off and eighth grade closed it out. After each round, each school’s cumulative score was posted for all to see.

St. P’s was in third place with 13 of 14 points when it was M’s turn. I was super nervous during her round, staring down and the floor and sending mental prompts to her. She turned in her sheet, the judges conferred, and the high schooler who was posting scores wiped out both the 1 and the 3 of St. P’s 13. She got all seven right! But then he wrote another 1 followed by a 9. Crap. She missed one. I thought about having a word with that young man about not needing to erase the entire score unless needed afterward.

Her words were: carbohydrate, biannual, cornea, dilemma, exterior, announcement, and grotesque. S figured grotesque would be the tough one. I went with dilemma. M missed dilemma. Score one for dad! M said, “Grotesque is one of my favorite words. Why would I miss that?” Sixth graders…

St. P’s got another 6/7 in the seventh grade and went into the final round in third place, five points out of first. Unfortunately our eighth grader had a rough round, and St. P’s finished in fifth place. The winning school missed just three words across the five rounds.

After, M was finally willing to show some excitement about the event. She was pleased with her performance. They got little notebooks and pens from the high school that hosted, and she joked about how she wouldn’t use it since she plans on going to its rival school.

Our favorite part of the night was the certificate she got for being part of the team. They spelled her name wrong! At a spelling bowl! No idea who was responsible, M’s teachers or the host school. But you’d think they would look at the official class roster and get it right. She got a certificate for being an alternate last year and said they spelled it wrong then, too. Strange.

Yep, that was a big matchup. Oh, there was another one, too. We’ll get to that later.