Phonics fanatics face off in Keystone |

Phonics fanatics face off in Keystone

Summit Daily/Reid Williams Summit Cove Elementary third-grader Wade Roscoe, left, listens intently as Breckenridge third-grader Duncan Biggun spells. Biggun won the primary grades spelling bee; Roscoe finished fourth.

KEYSTONE – The tension was so thick, you could have cut it with a k-n-i-f-e, but only if you remember that silent K.Summit Middle School sixth-grader Ian Parker won the first annual Summit County Spelling Bee intermediate division Saturday, beating out 20 students ranging from fourth to eighth grade.Including the first round of the bee, the ultimate pair heard 125 words before the champion was crowned. Parker bested Frisco fifth-grader Forrest Perdue after more than a dozen head-to-head final rounds at the Keystone Conference Center, pulling out the win by spelling “intermezzo” and then “javelin.”

“I’m not at all a natural speller,” Parker said after the competition, sorting through his prize pack of a $50 savings bond, gift certificates and school supplies. “It was tense.””I was very, very, very nervous,” said Perdue, who noted math is his better subject in school. “But I’ll definitely be back next year. I want to go to the next round.”By winning the Summit County bee, Parker earned a berth in the state’s spelling bee later this year. The winner of that spell-off heads to Washington, D.C., and the 2005 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Kelly Stern, executive director of the Summit Learning Center, which organized the spelling bee as a fundraiser, said she was encouraged because the second-place finisher in last year’s national spelling bee came from Colorado. In addition to giving children an opportunity to represent Summit County at state and national levels, the spelling bee will help educators promote the importance of spelling. “The simple switch of one letter can change the meaning of a sentence,” said Rebekah Jordan, a middle school teacher for the Summit Academy. “If you’re talking about a plant and you think ‘grown’ is ‘groan’ – you’ve gone from the science lab to a piece of poetry. It’s the difference between a ‘friend’ and a ‘fiend.'”Educators don’t have it easy these days, either. Spell-checkers on word processing programs might correct students’ writing, but they don’t teach them to spell. Nor does the abbreviated speech found in text messaging and e-mail-speak. And don’t get journalists started on what hip-hop has done to spelling and the English language.

For students that don’t think it’s that important, they should listen to Lisa Cheek. The director of KSMT Radio-The Mountain served as the announcer for Saturday’s event. Cheek said she’s currently hiring an advertising sales represented and was troubled by the resumes she received.”Half of them had typos,” Cheek said. “You worry when someone who wants a job from you spelled ‘career’ wrong.”But if the primary grade students who also competed Saturday are any indication, Summit County is in good shape. Almost 20 second- and third-graders competed before the “official” bee, and organizers hope this will get kids excited about competing in future years.

Frisco third-grader Anne Parker, who finished just behind Breckenridge students Garrison Ortega and Duncan Biggin, said she studied a lot and, more importantly, she’ll never forget the word she went out on.”‘Citizen’ is ‘en,’ not ‘in,'” she said. “I’ll never forget that.” Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237 or

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