From The Storyteller
May 7, 2018, Spelling
2:00 p.m. Friday, and I am terrified. The 5th grade weekly spell-down is about to begin. Two lines are formed. 13 to a line. One by the windows and the other across the room by the wall. The 20 spelling words for this week, and any others our teacher can think up, are fair game.
Misspell a word and you’re banished to your desk. Team whisper help is not allowed, and the winning team (last person standing) gets first shot at the afternoon snack. I have been an early desk sitter for most of the year, consequently I hate it when Friday at 2:00 rolls around. Those who do this spelling thing well love it.
Each week our teacher decides who gets put on which team so it’s always a surprise. This week my spot is in the line by the windows. My first opportunity for banishment is the word “elephant”*. It is one of this week’s 20, and I had it memorized. For the next 30 minutes, every time my turn came up, I got one of the 20. The other kids got some words that were easy, and some hard, but none from our 20.
The lines have thinned out, and I am the last person still standing by the windows. Across the room stands the only girl who can spell “encyclopedia” without help. My heart is pounding when she gets “circumference.” She spells it with only two “C/s”. All I need is one more word; my luck holds and from this week’s 20 - I get “zebra.”
I may be a poor speller, but I have a great memory, and that day I was the last person standing. My lucky day - every word I got came from the 20.
Moral: Teachers can be sneaky.
*Note: I don’t remember the exact words, I just remember they all came from our week’s list.