D-e-l-i-v-e-r-a-n-c-e. And with that correct spelling, the winner of the second annual Agahozo-Shalom Spelling Bee was crowned. The bee was a culmination of a week of competitions first within the families and then in the grades. Finally last Wednesday was the long awaited night where the eight best spellers in ASYV duked it out for the ultimate prize – an autobiography of Barack Obama, a notebook, some fancy pens, candies, and the respect as the greatest speller in the village.

The spelling bee competition was planned and implemented by the Language Development Club, a group of Senior 5 (equivalent to 11th grade) students who aim to increase the use of English around the village outside of school hours. 

Being students led, the Language Development Club members took complete responsibility and were extremely creative in creating elements of the competition. Days before the bee, flyers were circulating around the dining hall, clubhouses, and family’s homes with the faces of the competitors urging all to come see the exciting finale. Before and after the formal competition attendees were treated with performances by two new ASYV superstars, Enrichment Year students who have quickly made names for themselves as singers and talented performers. 

The list of words was no easy list, including words such as acquainted, conscientious, dichotomy, effervescent, and paradoxical. The kids created the atmosphere of excitement and competition of which nobody at Agahozo can seem to get enough.

The competition itself was fierce. Two representatives from each grade sat on the stage as the MCs, the president of the Language Development Club and last year’s bee winner who is also a member of the club, explained the rules of the game: spell the word correctly and move on, incorrectly and you’re out. After the first performance of the night, the bee began. The first round lost one competitor and the second two more. In the final five sat one student from Senior 6, one from Senior 5, one from Senior 4, and both representatives from Enrichment Year. This development reenergized the crowd and everyone’s eyes were peeled. As the words were called, against all appeals, murmurs of letters could be heard from the crowd as the rest of the student body yearned to play along with the competitors. 

The next round brought the group from five to two, a boy from Senior 4 and a girl from Senior 5. The MCs announced a slight change in the words that they would be receiving. Instead of hearing words from the lists that had been distributed a week earlier, and fervently studied, they would receive new words that they had not seen or studied previously. The competitors were ready for the challenge. In this round, if one of them spelled a word incorrectly, the other would have to spell that word correctly and then another to be declared the winner. We heard the words belligerence, algorithm, catastrophe, cynic, and finally deliverance before we were able to crown the winner. 

The winner, a boy from Senior 4, walked up to the microphone for each word with his green stress ball in hand, giving it a small squeeze while asking for the word to be repeated before silently spelling the word and finally aloud for all to hear. After another performance and a distribution of prizes ceremony, he gave an inspiring and encouraging speech. He discussed the importance of hard academic work and encouraged us all to find our own stress ball equivalent, something to calm our minds and let the real thinking occur. He descended the stage to a cacophony of cheers.

Written by year-long volunteer Michelle Haimowitz