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Barry Schrader
Columnist

 

I currently write a column each Tuesday for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. The column will also appear on this website each week and be added to the archives.

The Articles started December 2007.

 

If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Inside scoop on spelling bee: It's 'legerdemain'

By Barry Schrader.................................October 20, 2009

How can you beat 246 years of combined spelling experience, especially when two of the spellers are lifelong teachers?
Well, the DeKalb County Spelling Bee results from last Thursday night prove you just can’t top those odds. Then toss in an old newspaper editor who won his first school spelling bee in sixth grade at Genoa Junior High, and the odds are even greater.
Our championship team from Oak Crest totaled three residents.
Harriett Kallich does New York Times crossword puzzles for fun and still speaks some French, a big help in the final round of the contest. She has taught at DeKalb High School and NIU.
Then there is Rose Marie King who taught at the high school level, plus Gulf Port College and the University of Wisconsin. She tells me she had four years of Latin and minored in French as well.

Our Oak Crest spelling team, from left Harriett Kallich, Barry Schrader and Rose Marie King, totals 246 years of spelling experience

Lastly, this old editor got his basic language training during two years of Latin under the tutelage of Mrs. Gladys Wibking, my Genoa-Kingston High School Latin and English teacher. Latin was the only foreign language offered in our school district, but don’t ever call it the “dead language,” as it has helped me define and spell words all my life.
We had stiff competition among the 17 teams in this year’s bee. The final round pitted us against the Hearing Help Express team of Karen Bozovsky, Georgelen Kuhn and Tiffany Roos.
They sailed through some very difficult words. When they stumbled on “legerdemain” which comes from the French language and means “sleight of hand,” our Harriett Kallich spelled it correctly. (I must admit I didn’t have a clue how to spell it.) So the crowd applauded and we thought we had won.
Then emcee Jerry Smith was reminded of the rules and found we had to spell one more word successfully to claim the trophy. As the official pronouncer Clark Neher turned to his spelling list to find the next word, I broke out in a cold sweat. If we didn’t spell this one correctly the other team would be back in the race and we would have to stay up past 10 p.m. By a stroke of luck the next word was “dementia” which gave us Oak Cresters a good laugh as we chide each other about that every time we forget to remember something.
Afterwards Harriett pondered offering Clark some French pronunciation lessons before next year, but decided against it. During an earlier round his pronunciation of the French-based word “concierge” confounded the spellers until one of the official judges DeKalb Circuit Clerk Maureen Josh suggested a different phonetic version. Clark had a thankless job and handled it with aplomb, having filled this position in prior years. The other official judge Sycamore Schools Supt. Wayne Riesen and timekeeper, Daily Chronicle Editor Kristen Schmidt, also performed their duties commendably.
The Altrusa Club has hosted this literacy fundraiser along with the Chronicle and DeKalb County Community Foundation for 10 years and seems to have it finely tuned. When you consider they rounded up 17 teams with some 51 people and collected a number of drawing prizes, it was a definite success again this year. Emcee Jerry reported they had raised a total of $80,000 over the years and that’s not chicken feed.
Since it was past our bedtime at Oak Crest our team decided to head right home and not celebrate with warm milk and graham crackers until later. We had won ourselves a pizza party at Pizza Villa and visions of anchovies and pepperoni danced in my head all night! But I awoke with a start as I had dreamed I couldn’t remember whether pepperoni is spelled with one “n” or two ...

POSTSCRIPT: I was careless in my reporting last week about there being only one locally-owned bank left in the county. It turns out there are more than one still controlled by a majority of stockholders residing within DeKalb County. I apologize for the error. Thanks to the readers who caught the mistake including Jeff Strack, Ron Klein, Larry Forsberg and Dewey Yaeger. It’s good to know somebody reads the column!

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The columnist can be reached via email at :

barry815sbcglobal.net

or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115