The Scripps National Spelling Bee wrapped up last night in Oxon Hill, MD. The spelling bee brings together the best and brightest kids from around the country. Jake Brown of eStem middle school in Little Rock received the honor of being the first student of 281 contenders eliminated from the competition.
Scripps contenders are sponsored by local newspapers in their home town or state. This year RockCity Times selected Brown, a 13 year old at eStem Middle School, to join Lisa Academy student Chythanya Murali (sponsored by Arkansas Democrat Gazette) in representing the state in the bee.
In the first round of the competition contenders are given simple words to build confidence going into the increasingly difficult rounds. Brown, who was 4th to spell, was given Cow. “I totally thought cow had an ‘A’ instead of an ‘O’,” Brown tells us in a post competition interview. “I mean, why would you spell it with an ‘O’, it sounds so stupid. Like a crow whose ‘R’ fell off.”
Judges in the spelling bee became so perplexed over the misspelling they even asked Brown to repeat his spelling, to which he replied again “C-A-W, Caw”. The judges followed up with an un-requested definition and gave him an unprecedented third chance to spell the word, assuming he had not understood them the first time.
“I really couldn’t believe what I heard, we were all dumbfounded,” one of the judges said later. “These sponsor media organizations typically pull kids from local spelling bees, apparently whoever this RockCity Times group is just picked some random kid. We plan on banning them from future sponsorship.”
Brown who had recently transferred to eStem from Sheridan middle school had no previous spelling bee experience. We spoke with a number of his former teachers from Sheridan after we learned of the transfer, and all of them praised Brown for being an exceptionally bright student for the Sheridan School District. His eStem teachers have not returned our request for comment.
“I seriously thought all the eStem kids were suppose to be smart,” RockCity Time’s Spelling Bee Talent director says. “Yeah, we probably could have researched the kids rather than just pulling one aside during lunch in the River Market. Look at that Leonard Cooper kid who did so well on Jeopardy, we thought it was worth a shot. Plus we could actually spell Brown’s name.”
Arvind Mahankali from Bayside Hills, NY later went on to win the Bee in the “make up a word and spell it round”. The winning word was “knaidel”, which Mahankali said was a small mass of dough. Brown replied “we call that play-doh back in Yellow Jacket land.”