Hive of complicated words doesn’t sting great spellers at Western
Judges say the words in this year’s Western Navajo Spelling Bee were more difficult than at previous contests.
“This year’s spelling bee was hard,” said Tyler C. Manson, counselor in the Office of Diné Youth. “The words were pretty advanced.”
Words like “aspidistra,” “interminable,” and “recherché” are now part of the Navajo Times’ agency spelling bees to raise the bar even higher.
“We go by what Scripps National Spelling Bee gives us,” explained Manson, who was a spelling bee judge here and at the Central Navajo bee on Feb. 1. “We also have an alternative list just in case.”
Manson said judges went by the rulebook during the Central bee, where he noticed that words were “too hard and too complex” for spellers.
“And I was expecting that this time around too,” Manson continued. “That’s why I asked Marlita Haviland, librarian at Shonto Preparatory Elementary School, to help because she’s a longtime advocate and a longtime supporter of the spelling bee.”
Not only did the words for each grade competition get harder, they were also more complicated.
“We don’t choose the words, nor do we see the words until the week of the spelling bee,” Manson said. “When I got them this week, I looked it over and thought to myself, ‘The words are getting challenging.’”
But the spellers during the Western bee did an excellent job, said Miss Western Navajo Jacqueline Johnson, who was also a spelling bee judge and who also works at the ODY.
“It was a big deal that each speller was representing their school,” Johnson said. “A lot of them were from rural areas.”