Gregory Kalerak spells “nabob”, wins Nome Spelling Bee
Most adults never would have heard the word “nabob” if Vice President Spiro T. Agnew hadn’t called the press “Nattering nabobs of negativitism” back in 1970.
But the word came up in the Nome PTA’s Spelling Bee last Wednesday and fourth grader Gregory Kalerak, who later said he’d never heard the word before, spelled it right.
Twenty-three elementary school students, third through sixth grade, participated in the spelling bee. Before the actual competition they attended 20 practice sessions, twice a week, since November. The competition is run according to the rules of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the words come from their word list.
The first word of the bee was “bagel.” The young speller missed. The words were easy once you knew how to spell them, but not so easy if you weren’t seeing them regularly. “Guru” was a word a speller got wrong. Does Nome have any gurus? The tough ones came fast and furious. “Ramen, loot, pecan.” Hamster isn’t so hard. And certainly there are more hamsters in Nome than gurus. “Bongo!” A speller missed “sumo.” “Typhoon” was a miss as was “foyer.” Soon Gregory was the only one left standing. To be the champ he had to get two words correct. The first one was “polka” and he nailed it. And then came “nabob.” And he got that one right also.
Gregory is an all around good student and he likes to read. Reading is often the key to good spelling, especially of unusual words. Asked if he might somebody become a reporter, a job that requires good spelling, he replied “maybe.” His parents are Crystal and Chris Kalerak.
In addition to a big trophy Gregory wins a trip to the Alaska State Spelling Bee in Anchorage on March 19.
Third grader Peyton Lewis was runner-up and third was fifth grader Melody Giang.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is an annual competition held nation wide. The bee is run on a not-for-profit basis by The E. W. Scripps Company and is held at a hotel or convention center in Washington, D.C. during the week following Memorial Day weekend.
The teachers who conducted the practice sessions are Leonard Lastine, Ian McRae, Maria Schifferns and Amanda Snyder. Judges for the event were Jenefer Bell, Sandi Keller and Rachel Ventress. The scorekeepers were Brandy Arrington and Yevheniia McDowell and Julie Kelso was the pronouncer.