2015-02-12 / Youth

B-O-U-N-C-E forward

Education notes
Suzanne Casias


Suzanne Casias Suzanne Casias The thrill of competition can wreak havoc on one’s nerves, so even the most prepared athlete, no matter the sport or competition, must be reminded occasionally that every loss provides a lesson to be learned.

Football. As some of us still incredulously recall Seattle’s Super Bowl loss this year, I’m certain head coach Pete Car- roll didn’t miss an opportunity to encourage his team, “Great job. You’ve fought hard and there’s always next year.” The loss, though great for them to bear, provides an opportunity to learn, and the impetus moving forward to turn a fail into a win.

I’m told how football coaches train athletes to “fall forward” if tackled. The forward motion ensures their team gains ground even as a player is halted trying to make forward progress; thus, the player essentially “fails forward.”

Brundrett Middle School held its first spelling bee in over 10 years on the last Saturday of January. I’m not sure who exactly put the wheels into motion, but Anne Denton (parent of two Port Aransas high school students) contacted me just before our Christmas break, and I hit the ground running. First, funds were secured through a grant from the Port Aransas Education Foundation to register with Scripps, the national spelling bee organization. Announcements and posters at school presented the opportunity for this “academic-athletic” competition to students, and word lists were liberally distributed. The Friends of the Ellis Memorial Library gathered judges and a pronouncer, and even gifted our district with Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary— the official dictionary of the national spelling bee! Maria Brown, also a parent of two Port Aransas students, helped to organize the Marlins in Action volunteers, and parent Deana Erdner created some handsome, professional nametags for our spellers.

The morning of our bee, the air was abuzz with anticipation and anxiety. Our judges were seated: Sarah Jane Wise, Una Farley and Bill Slingerland. Our pronouncer, Pat McKeever, opened with a few words about the bee itself, and our pronouncer’s assistant, Principal Chris Roche, hovered at the ready over our reference dictionary. Ten spellers nervously stared out at an audience of assembled parents and friends. Each bravely stepped up to the microphone to spell his or her appointed word, and at the end of four rounds, Zach Parker was declared the spelling bee champion with his correct spelling of the word B-O-U-N-C-E.

After the bee, several student athletes expressed their desire to continue studying their word lists in preparation for next year’s competition, hoping one of them one day will be declared the winner, too. So, though we crown only one champion, and nine others failed, their positive attitudes and some wise words from parents, teachers and friends will help them to continue making forward progress.

No matter the sport or competition the enduring lesson is one that bears repeating: when you fail, fail forward, and you’ll be sure to B-O-U-N-C-E right back.

Suzanne Casias is an English and language arts teacher at Brundrett Middle School.

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