SARANAC Friday evening, April 20 was warm and sunny. The ball fields surrounding Saranac Central School were finally devoid of snow and by 5:45 the parking lot was filling up with spectators. The spectators were not there to watch an athletic competition on the fields, but a scholastic one in the auditorium. Saranac was honored to host the 6th Annual Regional Spelling Bee. Traditionally, the home school of last years Regional Champion hosts next years contest. Last year Saranac's Nelson Moore, a fourth grader, was the overall champion. Saranac Superintendent Ken Cringle welcomed all and extended his congratulations and good wishes to all contestants. Contestants ranged from 4th to 8th grade and came from Ausable Valley, Beekmantown, Moriah, Northern Adirondack, Peru, Saranac and Willsboro. Cringle encouraged them to continue their commitment to excellence regardless of their finishing place and pointed out the importance of spelling in effective communication. "As each of you strive towards excellence, I respectfully request that you never forget the pleasure, the passion, or the power words can have in your lives," he said. Meteorologist Jim Moore, from WPTZ was the Master of Ceremonies for the 6th year. He personally extended thanks to all who helped make the event happen and introduced each of the contestants. Elaine Rice, ELA facilitator from CVES, was the reader. As each contestant came to the microphone at the front of the stage she read the word, used it in a sentence, and said the word again. Some of the contestants came forward with smiles, some showed obvious enthusiasm, and others were serious. Many had to adjust the microphone up or down to accommodate the wide range of heights. All of them remained composed even when the microphone did not cooperate with its height adjustment, or even worse, they were eliminated by spelling a word wrong. Several contestants added humor to the evening by their intonations, facial expressions and gestures. After two oral rounds, the contestants went into classrooms for a "Written Bee", while spectators were treated to a delightful performance by the Saranac High School Show Choir directed by Elisha Harrington. When the contestants emerged from the written round their numbers had dwindled to 12. Each round saw a few more eliminated until it was down to a dual between 7th grader Adam Robar from Willsboro and 4th grader William Houle from Saranac. It was as intense as the last inning of a Yankees/Red Sox game. The Bee lasted a record 35 rounds and Houle finally claimed victory. Robar, one of the more animated contestants, was quick to extend a congratulatory handshake to Houle. Once again a 4th grader from Saranac won the Regional Spelling Bee and Saranac can look forward to hosting next year's competition. Besides trophies for the Champion and Runner Up, each grade winner received a trophy. The 5th grade winner was Nelson Moore (last year's defending champion) from Saranac, the 6th grade winner was Dallas Rich from Moriah, and the 8th grade winner was Virginia Hunter from Saranac. Jim Moore congratulated the contestants for scoring 100% on their weather terms. He also pointed out that the Regional Champion, William Howe would not be eligible to compete at the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. for only one reason. There is no sponsor in place for Clinton County. A sponsor must be in place and a contract signed with Scripps-Howard by July for a contestant to be sent the following spring. "I can't emphasize how huge it would be for our area to have one of our own competing in this," he said. The National Spelling Bee is televised live on ESPN as the scholars compete for the first prize of a $100,000 dollar college scholarship. Concerned parent and Associate Professor of Environmental Science at SUNY Plattsburgh, Tim Mihuc, is heading up a grass roots effort to get next years champion to Nationals. "Most people realize that we should have already been doing this," he said. Concerned parents of the North Country are seeking a community organization to sponsor next year's champion as well as donors or volunteers willing to help with fund raising. A total of about $2,000 dollars is needed to make this worthy goal a reality. If you are interested in helping out in any capacity please contact Tim Mihuc at Myhook@cisbec.net.