By Lesli Radford
Carol Nash has been participating in spelling bees for nearly 50 years.
She won the Quay County spelling bee as a San Jon student in 1957. Then when she became a first-grade teacher at now-defunct Eugene Fields School in Clovis, her principal asked her to help out by pronouncing words for contestants.
“Somehow he found out I was in a county spelling bee when I was in grade school and won,” said Nash. “I guess that qualified me.”
Now retired from teaching, Nash is still helping out with Clovis spelling bees. She will be the moderator for the Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico 2005 Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday at Clovis Community College’s Town Hall.
Her job is to pronounce, articulate and define words for 33 students in grades four through eight. The students are contending for a scholarship to CCC and a trip to Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., later this year.
Nash said the spelling bee hasn’t changed much through the years, though the words are “more complex.”
Nash said she studies pronouncing just as the students practice spelling.
“We used to not have a pronouncer’s manual that tells you how to say the word; it gives the definition and a sentence,” she said. “I used to have to make it up myself. Having the guide makes it a lot easier for me.”
Last year’s regional champion Zach Gillooly agrees the words can be perplexing. His winning word in 2004 was ‘dipsomania’.
“I practice a lot with my dad,” the Yucca Junior High eighth-grader said. “The words get harder every year.”
Gillooly reached the second round of the national spelling bee last year in Washington. He said he would shoot for a return to the nation’s capital this weekend, but does not want to let his confidence get in the way of practicing.
Each student participating received a 2005 Paideia Scripps National Spelling Bee booklet to help them study words in various categories ranging from “world religions” to “food for thought.” The booklet contains more than 3,000 beginning, intermediate and advanced words.