Eighth-grader Gavin McGinnis places third in Orange-Ulster BOCES’ Regional Spelling Bee

Gavin McGinnisCongratulations to eighth-grader Gavin McGinnis, who earned third-place honors in the recent Orange-Ulster BOCES Regional Spelling Bee!

Gavin prepared for this online event by reviewing word origins, pronunciations  and their definitions.  Gavin completed the 50-word spelling bee on a computer in the library while being monitored. An announcer spoke each word and Gavin was then required to type it.  Other regional competitors participated in a similar fashion. There was no spell check available, so he had no indication if his spelling was correct or incorrect. Gavin spelled 30 out of the 50 words correctly.

Gavin was one of 15 spellers from eight local schools. To prepare, spellers studied “Words of the Champions,” the 4,000-word study resource provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

As a third place winner, Gavin will receive:

  • A plaque and ribbon donated, by the Orange County School Boards Association.
  • A $25 Barnes & Noble gift card, donated by the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan.
  • A signed copy of a young adult book, donated by Ramapo Catskill Library System.
  • A writing journal and pen set from Orange-Ulster BOCES’ Instructional Support Services.
  • A certificate of participation

Spelling bees aren’t named after the insect.  Rather, they refer to a gathering of people who come together for a common purpose, often to achieve a task. The “bee” in spelling bee is likely derived from the old English word “bēn” or “bene” which at various times meant ‘prayer,”  “favor” or “help given by neighbors.”

Spelling contests have been recorded as far back as 1808, though they weren’t formalized until the first United States National Spelling Bee took place in 1925.

Spelling bees help students to further develop self-confidence, communication and public speaking skills (when they are in-person events)  and the ability to thrive under pressure.

For Gavin, there’s also another reason why spelling is important.

“If you can’t spell, you can’t read,” he said. “And if you can’t read, you won’t know anything about culture.”