Lance Letson Hungar of McLean, Va., waits for his turn during the semifinal round of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. Many Catholic school students participated in the annual contest. His expression is also how this Catholic Sun reporter feels every time someone misspells "Olmsted." (CNS photo/Molly Riley, reuters)
Lance Letson Hungar of McLean, Va., waits for his turn during the semifinal round of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. Many Catholic school students participated in the annual contest. His expression is also how this Catholic Sun reporter feels every time someone misspells “Olmsted.” (CNS photo/Molly Riley, reuters)

Exactly 26 spellers from as many elementary schools will take an oral exam at 6:30 p.m. tonight at St. Francis Xavier. Miss one and you’re done.

In honor of tonight’s test, I looked up the words that somewhat stumped me while reporting on last year’s spelling bee. I think I’ve mastered the top and bottom words since then:

  • malachite (I wasn’t sure of the spelling until the student being tested asked for the definition)
  • finesse (I use another brand of shampoo. I always question the number of ‘n’s and esses)
  • boorish (still have no idea what this means)
  • veneer (I think I know this one now, thanks in large part to a Canadian makeover show I watch)

Then I asked around a bit and searched old emails from my inbox to see what words school officials, parishes and members of other Catholic groups have trouble spelling. Here is what I found:

  • “Please put this information in the next addition of the Catholic Sun.”
  • subject line of “This weeks newsletter” (instead of “week’s”)
  • Still see Bishop Olmsted’s last name misspelled. “Olmstead” is the most common misspelling. It’s been nine years. Take notice. It was correct in the CDA video you saw at church last Sunday. It was also spelled correctly 76 times in an 11-page award-winning article celebrating his fifth anniversary as bishop of Phoenix. That doesn’t count the 17 mentions in congratulatory ads. Let’s all get it right in our spell-checkers by December when Bishop Olmsted celebrates his 10th anniversary.
  • “there” instead of “their” (I see this way too often in social media as well as “bord” to indicate boredom)
  • subject line of a news item read “Catholic Sun admission” instead of “submission”
  • Occasionally get “Nevarez” instead of “Nevares.” Apparently, some readers recycled their special edition of The Catholic Sun reporting on his ordination.
  • “Cemetaries” instead of “cemeteries.” The problem is evidently frequent enough that Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries for the Diocese of Phoenix owns URLs with both variations.
  • “loot” instead of “look” when referring to growth
  • Tolido, Ohio instead of Toledo

What words do you have trouble spelling or do you see regularly misspelled? Interested in taking a spelling test? Try this one from Annunciation Catholic School in Cave Creek.

On a happier note, we do have some top-notch spellers in Catholic school. This year, like many before that, there are several returning school-level champions competing for the diocesan title. And at least three Catholic school students have gone on to claim the national title including:

  • Elizabeth Hess from St. Matthew in Phoenix (1953)
  • Alagaiya and Malar Veeramani from Incarnate Word Academy in Ohio (2010)
  • Many also advanced to the  national competition in 2008, according to Catholic News Service

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