By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
Assuming you’re not an electrical engineer or some variety of physical scientist, you probably don’t find yourself having to spell “ampere” very often.
That’s a unit measuring electrical current, by the way. It’s what amp is short for.
If you’re not a musician, “allegro” probably doesn’t come up in your writing often. And marine biologists may write about “gourami,” but they’re just fish to most of us.
But students from seven counties took their turn at the microphone Wednesday evening to spell words that otherwise might not come up in conversation and compete to attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee representing West Virginia.
Louis Aldridge, a home-schooled fifth-grader from Harrison County, took first place after correctly spelling “asana” (a yoga position) and “gynarchy” (a system of government ruled by women).
Runners up were Conner Cantrell, seventh grade, Robert L. Bland Middle School, Lewis County; Kristen Engasser, fifth grade, Johnson Elementary School, Harrison County; Lauren Clarkson, eighth grade, Taylor County Middle School; and J. Emily Carlson, eighth grade, Doddridge Middle School.
Like most spelling bees, the kids started with comparatively easy words like “spectrum” and “mirage,” which could trip you up if you’re not paying attention, but appear in everyday usage. By the end, Aldridge and Cantrell were trading words like “contrapuntal” (an Italian musical term), “maelstrom” (a whirlpool) and “koan” (a Buddhist proverb of sorts).
To prepare, his mother Anna Aldridge said they reviewed and drilled the full list of spelling bee words every day.