Bright lights shinning down, a lone microphone in the middle of the stage and an auditorium full of people looking at you -- this is the view that some 4th and 5th grade students from Porter County had tonight.
If they had previously won their school’s Spelling Bee, then you were up on that stage trying to win the Porter County Spelling Bee.
Thursday night at Ben Franklin Middle School at 6 pm was the 27th annual Porter County Spelling Bee for local 4th and 5th grade boys and girls. Boone Grove, Valparaiso, St Paul’s, Washington Township, Chesterton, and Kouts, along with several other school systems were represented in the Spelling Bee.
The Porter County Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Valparaiso Sunrise Kiwanis Club. Linda Cronk and her husband Steve are both active Kiwanis members and a big part of this evening’s event. Linda coordinated and planned this evening “with lots of help from volunteers” to make it a very successful event.
Her husband Steve was tonight’s MC and had the job of keeping the evening running smoothly. Steve not only enjoys being the MC he also enjoys meeting the parents and the kids and seeing how well they do on words.
"I always marvel at how well they can spell," Steve added.
Linda adds, “The event is always fun and filled with tension and excitement!”
The spelling bee had its ups and downs for the young spellers of the evening. There was the young 4th or 5th grader who was out in the first round who left the stage looking tearful as they hurried to their mom for a comforting hug. Seeing the brokenhearted speller tugged on your heartstrings!
Then there was the 4th grade girl with the big green bow in her hair. When she got a word correct she would turn back to here seat with such a surprised look on her face and then cover her mouth as the audience smiled and chuckled at her. There were high fives amongst the spellers congratulating each other as they got a word correct. Claps and cheers were heard from the audience as the speller who just missed a word would walk off the stage and receive a ribbon.
Manal Salahuddin, a 10-year-old 4th grader who attends Brummitt Elementary in Chesterton was just happy to be a part of the moment.
“it was an honor being here. I don’t care if I win or lose, it’s just an honor being here," Salahuddin said.
All of the young spellers handled being on stage and spelling like pros. Altogether there were 29 fourth graders and 27 5th graders participating in the Spelling Bee.
Shastin Bontrager, whose son Cayson Bontrager, a 4th grader at Yost elementary School and a participant in the Spelling Bee, shared before the event started that she was looking forward to “All those 4th graders being able to spell more words than I can. I’m not a good speller.” Cayson, to prepare for this evening, would spell words in the car with his mom anytime they were driving leading up tonight.
At the conclusion of the evening there were only two left on the stage for each grade level. Adrian Dooley from Jackson Elementary was the winner for 4th graders, receiving a trophy and a $50 gift card. The runner up for the 4th graders, Abigail Whited from Kyle Elementary, also received a trophy. The 5th grade winner was Colin Devine from Northview and he too received a trophy and gift card. Macy Brown from Kouts was the runner up for 5th grade and received a trophy.
“Tonight was especially fulfilling “enthused Linda Cronk, “because Colin is only the second to win both years.” Colin had won the Bee last year as a 4th grader. Congrats to all of this year’s Spelling Bee participants!