The Spell It! regional bee list, which has been in use for over a decade, was recently discontinued and replaced by Words of the Champions, a 4,000-word study guide that will now be used in regional bees and, though it remains to be seen for sure, perhaps the national bee. As someone whose early experiences in the bee were very much defined and shaped by the Spell It! list, I’m writing this (albeit sappy) post as a farewell to the list that opened the door to the bee world for me.
To Spell It!--
When my brother and I first printed you out to study for our very first state bee, we were 12 and 10 years old respectively. We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, just that we had qualified for the state bee and that we wanted to do decently well. As we spent hours poring over your pages, we discovered so much--the seemingly impossible complexities of German that turned out to be more consistent than they appeared, the way Greek and Latin roots click together to construct meanings, the gorgeous absurdities of French.
Of course, neither of us won the state bee that year, but you laid the foundation for what was next. Spell It! unlocked a love that I didn’t know I had for words and language and learning. From then on, every word I learned was a treasure, an exquisite story to explore. Once I started with Spell It!, I never stopped. Words took me around the world both figuratively and literally--spelling bees would take me to stages as far from home as DC and Beijing. And of course it’s easy to credit all the more advanced and complex words and lists and concepts for getting me that far, but ultimately, Spell It!, it all started with you.
It started with spelling-based basketball games in my driveway with my brother. One shot for every word. (Spell It!, of course, was our source.) It started with the wonder that ignited within me the first time I saw the word Weissnichtwo in the German challenge words. It started with Googling pictures of all the Spell It! Dog words, from schipperke to borzoi. It started with hours spent in the car with my dad outside my elementary school on early mornings, going over Spell It! over and over again. So, Spell It!, in many ways, you were just the beginning. But I really wouldn’t call you "just" anything. You served as the gateway to something that was ultimately life-transforming, and for that I am grateful.
a lifelong Spell It! kid