Chicago's Kid Spellers Face Off at an Old-Fashioned Bee

March 20, 2009

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Seventy top spellers from across the city packed a school gymnasium to try their luck at words like mercerize, gauche, and douane. 

SPELLER: CAN I HAVE THE DEFINITION PLEASE?

Family members and principals spelled along in their heads and quietly urged students on from metal folding chairs. There were tears and good tries. When fifth grader Simon Ricci missed “chaplain,” it was Kira Gallancy's to lose.

PRONOUNCER: NOMINATIVE.
KIRA: Nominative. N-O-M-I-N-A-T-I-V-E. Nominative.
PRONOUNCER: We have a winner!

Kira, a sixth grader at Lincoln Elementary, took home an unabridged dictionary as one prize. She'll represent Chicago at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

Related: Audio slideshow of event