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Elementary spellers rise to top in Sch'dy

‘Cerebellum’ takes the day for sixth-grader

Friday, February 1, 2013
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Anna Blanchfield, a student at Central Park International Magnet School in Schenectady, ponders the correct spelling of "cerebellum" during the Schenectady City School District Elementary Spelling Bee held at Mont Pleasant Middle School on Friday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Anna Blanchfield, a student at Central Park International Magnet School in Schenectady, ponders the correct spelling of "cerebellum" during the Schenectady City School District Elementary Spelling Bee held at Mont Pleasant Middle School on Friday morning.

— Anna Blanchfield’s cerebellum was in fine shape Friday.

The nerves in the lower part of the brain involved in motor control and other functions were firing on all synapses as the 11-year-old from Central Park International Magnet School won the Schenectady City School District Elementary Spelling Bee on the word “cerebellum.”

The top three finalists from each of the district’s elementary and K-8 schools came to Mont Pleasant Middle School to settle affairs and were cool as a “cucumber.”

Nobody spoke “incoherently” but were “patient” as they carefully and correctly spelled words with remarkable “consistency.”

It took an hour for the field of 39 third- through sixth-graders to be bifurcated, but one by one these “ambitious” spellers began to “falter,” exiting the stage disappointed with their “fallibility” but convinced they had done a “satisfactory” job.

After nearly 90 minutes, it was time for the “monumental” climax of the event — the final three.

Janiiya Hart, 11, a sixth-grader at Keane Elementary School, misspelled “statistician” and took home third place. She said the toughest part was staying under control onstage. “You’re so nervous that you can’t say anything,” she said.

Then, it was back and forth between Blanchfield and runner-up Steffon Ramkissoon, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Hamilton Elementary.

The outcome may not have been “desirable” for Steffon as he was eliminated by adding an extra “r” to that word.

Still, he thought he did pretty well. “I practiced all night,” he said.

Finally, Anna emerged victorious and will compete at the Capital Region spelling bee at Proctors in March.

“It was pretty nerve-racking, just waiting and seeing whether it was right or wrong,” she said.

All those hours of studying the words on the list had paid off for the aspiring veterinarian. To celebrate, she was going to the RPI-Harvard hockey game with her family.

Her father, City Court Judge Mark Blanchfield, said Anna occasionally asked for help from her parents but mostly practiced on her own. “She’s a self-starter,” he said. “We’re proud of Anna — no matter how she does. She’s a hardworking lady and kind to her classmates.”

 
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