The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger

Competing in a Virtual Spelling Bee


March 31, 2021 | View PDF

On January 28, Cheyenne County's spellers met at West Elementary School in Sidney to determine who was the best of the local field.

The contest was unique this year with contestants limited to a classroom and wearing masks, part of the COVID-19 health directives. Judges were at the front of the room with plexi-glas shields between themselves and individual contestants.

The January contest came down to three finalists — Aastha Chaudhari and Aadhav Krishna came in first and second places respectively.

Chaudhari had the honor of participating in the Midwest Spelling Bee. The Midwest Spelling Bee is competition with students from Nebraska and western Iowa. Students earn the right to the Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee by winning their county or district contests. Their quest, in addition to be known as the best speller in Nebraska, is to be awarded an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete against champion spellers nationwide.

This year is unique with special consideration for COVID health directives. The Midwest Spelling Bee was held online.

Chaudhari said she was nervous.

Contestants were verbally given the words, similar to a live contest including how a word is pronounced, how it is used and the word's origin.

Unique to the online approach, contestants had a limited amount of time to complete all of the words.

“I had to do the test in 30 minutes,” she said.

The advantage of the online testing is a contestant can change a word if he or she sees a mistake, compared to an in-person contest where a spoken word is the final entry.

She finished the test and the next day learned she had 30 of 50 correct. It is a good score she said, because the words were more difficult.

She said the staff at West Elementary school were supportive and encouraging.

Chaudhari plans to return for future spelling bees. Spelling Bees are for students grades four through eight. She said she may go into a writing career, but also has an interest in medicine.


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