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Dillon Giancola: Becoming a spelling bee master

I love trying new things and taking on different challenges I never thought I’d be interested in. I’m also very competitive, even if my skill level shows that I have no business trying.
Spelling Bee
Maximus Williams spells a word correctly during the Fort St. John Literary Society's spelling bee at the Lido Theatre on April 21.

I love trying new things and taking on different challenges I never thought I’d be interested in. I’m also very competitive, even if my skill level shows that I have no business trying.

On April 21, that new challenge was trying to win a spelling bee. The Fort St. John Literary Society held its annual spelling bee at the Lido Theatre, and I decided to enter the Media Spell Off. There were six of us, including Alaska Highway News Editor Matt Preprost.

I didn’t think I would win, but I really wanted to. Mostly, I didn’t want Matt to win, because then every time he’d edit one of my articles he would point out that I need to become a better speller, like himself. I would have no choice but to say, “yes, master speller,” and punish myself by watching educational videos on YouTube.

Luckily, he didn’t win. Did you know there was two N’s in millennium? Matt didn’t. He still beat me, but that doesn’t really matter.

After sitting through two hours of Grade 1 and 2 students spelling words like ‘shudder’ and ‘mansion’, I could hardly contain my excitement when the media were called to the stage.

There were 70 competitors at the spelling bee, as well as their parents, siblings, and teachers. Standing up in front of a hundred people with bright lights shining in your face was fairly intimidating —but I revelled in the moment.

There were no spelling bees when I was a kid. But I was a pretty good speller. I took pride in my schooling, and practiced my flash cards every morning. Nothing was going to confuse me, not even ‘photosynthesis’ or ‘synonym’.

I’m not sure what happened in the last 20 years. My spelling is fine, but not good enough to win a spelling bee, apparently. But what hasn’t left me is my competitive drive. I went up there for my first word, took a pretty long time, but nailed the correct spelling of ‘subterranean’.

For my next word, I was nervous because some of the other contestants had lost out in the second round on some tough words. My second word was ‘punctillious’.

I’ve never heard that word before, and I refuse to learn what it means. I lost because I thought it only had one L — easy mistake. Since then, a friend of mine told me, “everyone knows if the word ends in ‘ious’ that it has two Ls.” Seriously.

I wanted to tell him that I felt very strongly that everyone doesn’t know that, but who am I to talk back? After all, I can only come in fourth place in a spelling bee out of six people.

Dillon Giancola covers Peace Region sports for the Alaska Highway News. Email him at sports@ahnfsj.ca.