A playground outside Líídlįį Kúę Elementary School in Fort Simpson. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
Teachers and educational leaders are organizing what they say is the first annual territorial spelling bee for Northwest Territories children.
The inaugural championship is expected to be held in Fort Simpson in the spring. The idea comes from Philippe Brulot, superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Education Council (DDEC).
He says his goals are to improve kids’ vocabularies, help self-expression, make education more exciting and build self-esteem.
“Here in the Dehcho our kids are very bright, very capable, but our kids need more opportunities to compete in order to shine,” said Brulot.
“I think more NWT-wide competitions would be beneficial to all of us. We do have them in sports, for example, but not so much in terms of academics.”
Other schools in the territory have agreed to participate and will hold their own internal competitions beginning in March.
Come May, “they’ll sending their best to Fort Simpson for the first annual Northwest Territories spelling bee,” said Marty Leach, supervisor of schools at the DDEC.
What might help motivate kids to brave the crowds and be crowned the most sesquipedalian speller of the year? The DDEC is currently fundraising to be able to purchase MacBooks, iPads and an array of other fun-but-educational prizes to heat up competition.
Speaking at a Fort Simpson council meeting on Monday, Leach asked for a small contribution from the village to cover these costs. In the future, he said, he hopes other regions will step forward to host the event each year.
And for the DDEC, the spelling bee is just the beginning.
“We know that kids struggle with public speaking – it’s a tough thing. So the spelling bee is step one of trying to help our kids increase their ability to stand up in public,” said Leach.
“It may take a couple of years, but the second initiative is to have a second kind of public speaking contest so that our students can show the words they have learned and build confidence,” said Brulot.
Step three? Who knows. But at this rate, NWT teachers may soon be accusing their precocious logophiles of circumlocution.