First spelling bee causes buzz at Trevecca

By Katie Schimmelpfennig

Heather Millington has $25 to spend on iTunes after being crowned Trevecca Nazarene University’s first spelling bee champion. 

Millington, a junior commercial music major, won the spelling bee after out spelling 11 other contestants with the word “entrepreneur” at the hour-long competition held in Tarter Student Activity Center on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. 

The contestants ranged from star senior basketball player Matthew Elliott to junior English major and TrevEchoes editor Jalaine Weller.

Millington, who said she did not prepare for the spelling bee, has never been a spelling bee contestant before.  In fact, she cannot spell small words very well, only big ones, she said. 

Her friends inspired her to be a part of the school spelling bee. 

“My friends always ask me, ‘Heather, how do you spell that?’” Millington said. 

Student government leaders decided to have the spelling bee because they were interested in hosting more academic competitions on campus, said Lyle Blanco, Associated Student Body Director of Student Services.

The spelling bee was similar in format to the National Spelling Bee.  The word list, which included words “vivisection”, “ambulance”, and “synchronous”, were from Webster’s Dictionary, he said. 

Participants received the word list the day before the event.

All 50 chairs in the room were filled.  Blanco was worried that the competition may draw out, but it only took an hour. 

“I loved the spelling bee. I came out to support my friend Jenna Bruce, but soon was cheering on everyone to win.  It was a fun atmosphere with great people involved who know how to have a good time,” Sarah Moore, a senior spectator, said.

Clifton Smith, Associated Student Body Vice President, was the announcer.  He would inform the speller of his or her word followed with alternate pronunciation, definition, and use of the word in a sentence—if asked.  One contestant asked every time.

Andrew Hall, a senior contestant, asked for Smith to expand on every word given. 

“Andrew Hall kept it lively—it was funny,” Blanco said. 

Elliott, the first contestant eliminated after misspelling the word “alchemy”
 walked to the microphone filled with confidence and his basketball in hand. 

Participants were eliminated one by one until the 12th round when Weller misspelled “bureaucracy” to crown Millington as champion. 

Audience members and participants said the pilot event was enjoyable.

“I liked the idea of an academic activity on campus and I would do it again—it was fun,” Rachel Meredith, sophomore participant, said.

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