Tension, Tears and Top-Notch Spelling

The Middle School finalists made an impressive showing at the Laura P. Muhlfeld Spelling Bee on March 7. Head of Middle School Chris Dunham said, "There was tension, there were tears, there was laughter, and there was some top-notch spelling! A huge thanks to Mr. Dearinger for moderating and to Ms. Hurwitz and Ms. Murphy for judging."
The winner is a Form II boys who also won last year...congratulations! First and second runners-up are in sixth and fifth grade, respectively. The teachers in the audience expressed their amazement at the difficult words the boys spelled so flawlessly. All the finalists handled themselves with aplomb and showed nerves of steel in front of so many members of the Browning community.
The day before, high-fives, handshakes, pats on the back and loud applause were the order of the morning during the Laura P. Muhlfeld Spelling Bee on March 6 as the Lower School finalists (second, third and fourth graders) encouraged and complimented one another. Head of Lower School Laurie Gruhn said, “This was one of the most intense, competitive and impressive spelling bees in Lower School history! We owe tremendous thanks to Kevin Dearinger, moderator, and our judges, Susan Levine and Sarah Murphy, for their ears, eyes, insight and compassion. I am pleased to announce that the winner is a fourth grade boy, and our runner-up is a second grade boy!”

English teacher Kevin Dearinger spoke to the boys beforehand, breaking the ice and quelling nerves by asking participants and the rest of audience if they knew how to spell his last name. Like many of the homophones (weather, whether; steak, stake) they would soon be challenged by, “Dearinger” can take on many different spellings as well, he said. Mr. Dearinger also noted that this long-standing annual contest was later re-named for Laura Muhlfeld, a retired faculty member.

The boys in the bee were not easily stumped, having studied so diligently with teachers and family members to prepare and make it to the finals. Finally, the competitors were narrowed down to two boys who provided the audience with many a nail-biting moment until a winner was declared. Though disappointment is naturally a part of the experience, most participants were pleased to have been part of the event, knowing they tried their very best on the toughest words, and later posed for a photo. To be so young, standing in front of so many, and making a valiant attempt to spell words such as “occasionally” or “rhinoceros” takes true “grit” or, as sometimes spelled here at Browning, “grytte.”