Nervous students sat in a Teachers College classroom while they waited for their names to be called. Some were there for the prizes, others were forced to attend by their friends or came for fun.
In the end, senior philosophy major Robert Wilbur won the $100 first prize in the second annual Golden Key Spelling Bee, organized by the Ball State University chapter of Golden Key International Honour Society.
"In the last 10 to 15 minutes, it was just me and [the other participant]," he said. "If I were a betting man, I'd place my bets on him."
About 40 students attended the spelling bee last night at the Teachers College. Most contestants, like Wilbur, received an e-mail about the competition and decided to participate.
"I felt confident I'd win," he said.
Wilbur said his confidence comes from the number of books he has read.
"The key to good spelling and good English is reading good authors," he said.
Wilbur said the last time he participated in a spelling bee was in the eighth grade. He came in seventh place.
This year's competition lasted more than an hour, as words got more difficult to spell.
Guy Crowder, vice president and secretary of the organization, said the event was more competitive than last year.
Crowder, who also organized last year's spelling bee, said the idea of organizing a spelling bee contest came from Golden Key's emphasis on the promotion of literacy.
Crowder said he thought as the levels got harder, participants seemed more comfortable with the words.
"I think Ball State students are good spellers," he said. "If they are in college, and depending on their majors, they will find some words easier to spell."
Carol Kosisko, Golden Key Ball State chapter advisor who also attended and judged at the event, said she was satisfied with the result of the competition.
"It was excellent; I was excited about the many participants we had," she said. "I was surprised it lasted more than an hour."
Kosisko said the organization will meet in December to plan future activities.
According to its Web site, the Golden Key International Honour Society was founded in 1977. It is an academic society that recognizes and encourages scholastic achievement and excellence among college students from all academic disciplines.
Ball State's chapter, one of the first in the United States, was created in 1978.
The 'HARD' words
Here are the most difficult words on the spelling bees' list:
- Caterwaul: to utter long wailing cries, as a cat.
- Chlorofluorocarbon: a substance blamed for the hole in the ozone layer.
- Idiosyncrasy: a characteristic or habit peculiar to an individual, incident or the like.
- Marionette: a puppet manipulated from above by strings.
- Repartee: a quick, witty reply.
- Skein: a length of yarn wound on a reel for use in manufacturing.
- Tourniquet: a device for stopping bleeding.
- Wildebeest: a large African antelope, also called a gnu.