by Daniel Aliber, Class of 2017
On April 9, 2016, the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon hosted over 70 students from five schools in the 19th Ward for the sixth annual 19th Ward Spelling Bee! Students from Dr. Walter Cooper Academy School No. 10, John Walton Spencer School No. 16, Dr. Charles T. Lunsford STEM Academy School No. 19, Adlai E. Stevenson School No. 29, and Lincoln Park School No. 44 came to campus to learn about their potential college careers through competing in a spelling bee sponsored by multiple organizations in Rochester.
Early in the day, students ranging from third grade through eighth arrived on campus and headed to the Georgen Athletic Center. There, brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon played kickball, basketball, and soccer with the students in order to work off the students’ nerves before the big event. After a healthy dose of friendly competition, the students walked over to the Sigma Phi Epsilon Academic Learning Center where they filled up on pizza, courtesy of the Office of Admissions, and practiced their spelling before heading over to Hoyt to begin the main event of the day.
At 1:00 pm, with Hoyt auditorium packed with friends and families of the spellers, the Spelling Bee kicked off. The event began with a short speech about the Rochester Promise scholarship from Andre McKenzie of the Office of Admissions, and a talk from the Dean of the College, Richard Feldman.
After weeks of spelling practice with brothers and volunteers at the Arnett Branch Library, the competition was fierce. Sixth graders even used all their words and overflowed into the seventh-grade word list! Eventually a champion was found from each grade and awards were dispensed.
Thanks to the generosity of the Office of Admissions, the 19th Ward Community Association, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and the Community Foundation, each participant was awarded a backpack with 19th Ward Spelling Bee-branded pencils, erasers, and highlighters, as well as a Wal-Mart gift card and a medal.
The winners received all of the above, as well as a trophy, and a $500 scholarship to be awarded on admission to the college or university of their choice.
After the bee, everyone headed home ready to start preparing for next year!