photo_1Press release from Fair Haven School District

For the first time, a spelling bee was held at Knollwood School in Fair Haven to select a candidate for the “Spelldown” held each year at Monmouth University. The winner of the inaugural spelling bee was fifth-grader Jack Costello, who made school history by being the first Knollwood student chosen to attend the Spelldown.

After attaining victory in the Knollwood School spelling bee, Jack participated in the 30th annual Spelldown competition for 97 students aged eight through fourteen from Monmouth, Ocean, and Middlesex counties. The winner of the competition, held over a three-day period in March at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, will represent the region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held in Washington, D.C. in May.

The competition at Knollwood School began in February for all interested students in grades four through eight. Grade-level spelling bees were held during lunch and recess periods, culminating in a winner for each grade. The grade-level winners then squared off and Jack prevailed with his correct spelling of “pendiculation”, which is defined as the act of yawning.

“It was great to see so many students excited and enthusiastic about spelling,” said Knollwood School Principal Kevin Davis. “We had students from every grade level participate in the spelling bee and there was a lot of positive energy.”

“The words became more difficult towards the end, but Jack stayed cool throughout the spelling bee.”

The winner of this year’s Spelldown was sixth-grader Aron Wiener of Oak Hill Academy in the Lincroft section of Middletown.

The Spelldown, which has been judged for the past 30 years by Louise Silverman, Professor Emeritus of English and Literature at Ocean County College, is sponsored by the Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune, New Jersey Natural Gas, and Shop-Rite.

Over the 30 years of the regional Spelldown, more than 2,300 local students have competed. Katherine Close, an eight grader from H.W. Mountz Elementary School in Spring Lake, won the Monmouth University Spelldown, and then claimed victory in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2006.