Breakfast this a.m. was buzzing with Bee excitement. Repeat spellers, of which there are 69, were becoming reacquainted with each other, comparing their winning words, words they just learned and words they don't want to hear in the Bee. Parents too were met with familiar faces and compared stories about their champions' approach to studying. Michael had a nice chat with Kavya Shivashankar's dad. Kavya is a four time repeater who was ranked fourth in the 2008 Bee. They talked about the dedication necessary to become a spelling champion and when the talk turned to Kavya's 7-year-old sister possibly following in her footsteps her mom quickly piped in "Only if she wants."
After breakfast we took a brisk walk and saw that the television trucks were beginning to load in their equipment. On Thursday morning the semi-finals will be carried on ESPN and the finals will be on ABC that same evening. Today lights were being hung in the Bee venue, cable was being laid and camera men were beginning to follow the spellers about.
Today was the first "official" Bee event, all of the spellers and their family members, probably close to 1,000 people, were loaded onto buses and brought out to The Pavilions of Turkey Run in McLean, Virginia, for The Great American Barbeque. There were games, a DJ and Karaoke, bounce houses , clowns, face painting and plenty of great food. Of course there was more socializing for the kids and for their parents too. Michael and Barbara had a stimulating conversation with Aaron Rabinowitz and his dad, a professor in the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Rabinowitz is writing a medical textbook on environmentally based diseases, and we were fascinated with his subject matter and ability to explain it on a layperson's level.
Barbara and Michael also talked with a number of parents who were all concerned about the economic health of newspapers. All of the spellers in the Bee are sponsored by local newspapers and all are so grateful for the opportunity to participate. We worried that the loss of the newspapers, in addition to the negative impact they would have on their communities, would also adversely affect the Bee. So, you who are reading this blog on line, make sure to read your local paper in its print edition!
Enough of the serious talk, while the adults were saving the world, the kids were having fun. Speller 128, Tex, even managed to practice his pitching skills, getting the radar gun up to 52 m.p.h.
While the bus ride out to VA was chatty, the bus ride bag was pretty quiet, the spellers had their fun and were now once again preparing for the bee. Speller 128 hit the books as soon as we got back to the hotel studying until it was time for dinner. For those of you waiting to hear about tonight's dinner, forget it. While the meal was good, it was nothing like Cafe Atlantico and as such will go "unblogged."
And now, for something truly AMAZING, when we returned from dinner upon walking past the hotel reception desk, Daniel said, "Hey, that's Dan from The Amazing Race." We are, amazingly, a family that has never seen a single American Idol, or Dancing With the Stars, but we never miss The Amazing Race. During Season 13, Dan and his partner Andrew were our favorites, and we were excited that they made it to the finals. Sadly, they didn't win, but maybe, just maybe they'll be on an All-Star version of the show. We had the nicest conversation with Dan, a graduate of ASU with a degree in Tourism Management. He's a real mensch, and a winner in our book.