The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


High-fives for Bedford Village spelling whizzes


Second-grader Emma Eckert gets ready for her word to spell.


The students wore numbered bibs as they sat on chairs on the school’s stage. Most kept their hands in their laps, shuffling their feet nervously.

On the windy evening of Thursday, Jan. 31, over 200 parents and young children gathered in the gym to watch the Bedford Village Elementary School’s fifth annual spelling bee.

“These are the die-hard spellers,” said Jen Kothari, co-president of the school’s parent association, which originated the bee and hosts it each year. “It’s like watching a race. It’s quite interesting. It’s a big draw and very well received. It’s adorable to watch. The kids are happy to be there.”

The spelling bee brought in 102 competitors from second through fifth grade, roughly one-third of the school’s student body. There were 26 second-graders, 32 third-graders, 27 fourth-graders and 17 fifth-graders who spelled aloud, attempting to win the nearly four-hour competition.

“The kids really enjoy it,” said school principal Karen Eldon. “They do so much preparation. There are families that come to cheer on friends. It has turned into a nice community event.”

Approaching the microphone, some students were timid, while others stepped up confidently and spoke with voices booming across the gym. Some fourth- and fifth-grade students, too tall for the microphone’s placement, had to bend their knees to speak into it properly.

The Bedford Village Elementary School’s spelling bee was established in 2009 by the parent association, whose members noticed that the school did not have a competitive academic event. Wanting to give students another chance to excel, the organization formed the optional bee for students who wanted to compete scholastically.

“We thought that spelling would be an interesting event for the students to get involved with since it’s such a heavy part of their curriculum,” Ms. Kothari said.

“I was really excited,” added Ms. Eldon. “I saw the bee as an opportunity to showcase some kids who wouldn’t be spotlighted normally. I really do feel that the whole experience is a huge thing. It takes courage.”

The spelling bee words were picked at random and pronounced aloud by parents Maggie Dellorso and Terry Voltaggio. The students repeated the word, spelled it, and then repeated the word again. Some asked for the word to be used in a sentence before spelling, while others, knowing they were incorrect, asked to restart spelling their word.

Since the children were aged between seven and 11, the words ranged in difficulty. The spelling bee began with easier fare like “warm,” “army,” “glue” and “huge,” and soon turned into more challenging words like “coil,” “fever,” “clown” and “tribe.”

Earlier in the competition, parents held their breaths as a young boy took a pause midway through spelling the word “soft” and when two girls nearly misspelled “quit” and “steps,” respectively. When one boy spelled a word correctly after some hesitation, he turned around and fist-pumped the air mouthing “yes!” to himself.

“The events are jam-packed,” Ms. Kothari said. “For some reason the academic events, to the families around here, are just as interesting as the fun nights that we hold.”

The audience cheered after each student spelled a word, whether it was correct or not. Fellow student participants also showed sportsmanship. When someone spelled a word incorrectly, the other contestants held their hands out for a high-five.

After three hours the spelling bee was still in full swing and the last two fourth-graders went back and forth for approximately 15 minutes, Ms. Eldon recalled.

In the end, four winners were crowned. Second-grader Roxy Bahari won by spelling the word “worrying;” third-grader Austin Putter won with the word “ambiguity;” Kaitlin Blakeslee won the fourth-grade level with “remainder;” and fifth-grader Nadya Ambar Agustono won by correctly spelling “expedient.”

Ms. Kothari and Ms. Eldon are already looking forward to next year’s spelling bee. Ms. Kothari noted that the students’ participation in an optional competition speaks volumes about the event.

“It is one of the most exciting nights here for me,” Ms. Eldon said.

“I think the fact that we keep our numbers up year after year shows that the students are interested in participating,” Ms. Kothari said. “It remains as popular today as it was the first year.”

Bedford Village Elementary School’s next optional academic competition is their science showcase on Feb. 28.

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


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February 8, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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