Weekly roundup: OC spellers shine at Scripps National Spelling Bee, students win energy-efficient vehicle competition, and more

A pair of eighth-graders from Orange County advanced all the way to the quarterfinals of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee, correctly spelling words such as “meiosis,” “scintillation” and “copestone.”

Baominh Le and Sophia Lin, both from The Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, made it to the fifth round before finishing in a 16-way tie for 43rd place at the national bee. Another Southern California student, Irene Thomas of Tarzana, exited in the fourth round.

Title for "In the news"In March, Baominh and Sophia made history as the first ever co-champions from the same school at the Orange County Spelling Bee, which is annually coordinated by OCDE and the Orange County Register. The students finished in a tie after 50 questions and were scheduled to participate in a bonus round, but based on their stellar performances, officials decided to let both students advance.

The 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee kicked off on Saturday, June 12 with more than 200 of the nation’s top spellers, and 75 later advanced to the quarterfinals. The semifinals are scheduled to start on June 27.

According to the Register, Baominh and Sophia sailed through round four, spelling “swelldom,” defined as people of rank and fashion, and “Waldhorn,” a musical horn, respectively. But the word-meaning questions from round five proved to be more challenging. Baominh was asked, “What does it mean to circumambulate?” while Sophia was given the prompt, “Scansion is: … .”

Owing to the pandemic, this year’s spelling bee events were held virtually. OCDE typically hosts a preliminary written round of the Orange County Spelling Bee at its Costa Mesa campus, drawing public and private school students who won their school or district-level competitions. Finalists later compete for top honors in the OCDE Board Room. More information can be found at ocde.us/SpellingBee.

And here are some of the other stories we’re following this week:

  • A guide dog in training has become part of the school culture at Hope View Elementary, which has also raised nearly $20,000 for the nonprofit Guide Dogs of America. The program recently earned the Ocean View School District campus a Golden Bell Award from the California School Board Association.
  • Ethnic studies continues to be the subject of discussion in a number of Orange County school districts, reflecting a national conversation over how schools should teach students about the contributions and struggles of people of color.
  • The OCDE Newsroom staff recently came across a video featuring a chorus of young voices from the Tustin Unified School District. Turns out the honor choir is composed of fifth-graders from every TUSD school, and for nearly 16 months they performed 100 percent virtually.
  • Enhancing school-based interpretation and translation services will be the topic of a month-long virtual conference hosted by OCDE’s Educational Services division. Beginning Sept. 8 and continuing through Oct. 2, the fifth annual Interpreters and Translators Conference will cover such topics as remote interpreting, cultural challenges, technology, best practices for translations and more.
  • Laguna Beach Unified has dropped a proposed academic schedule change for Thurston Middle and Laguna Beach High schools. The shift would have enrolled students in four courses per semester in 2021-22, but officials said they need more time for additional research and focus group input, according to the Laguna Beach Independent.
  • School districts are expecting one of the largest kindergarten classes ever in the fall, as many parents of young children opted to wait until this year rather than start school virtually during the pandemic. Last year’s corresponding drop in preschool attendance means many children may also arrive less prepared.
  • Vulnerable student populations are increasingly choosing more expensive for-profit colleges over California’s community colleges. EdSource reports that many are taking on “disastrous” levels of debt and leaving without degrees.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.