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Eighth Grader Wins National Spelling Bee
AP via Yahoo! ^ | Thursday, May 29, 2003 | By DARLENE SUPERVILLE, Associated Press Writer

Posted on 05/29/2003 4:14:01 PM PDT by Momaw Nadon

WASHINGTON - A 13-year-old eighth-grader from Dallas nailed "pococurante" to win the 76th Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee on Thursday.

It was Sai Gunturi's fourth time in the competition.

"I studied it," a beaming Sai said of the word after winning the contest, $12,000 and other prizes. "That's why I was kind of laughing." The word means indifferent or nonchalant.

Sai plays the violin and studies Indian classical music. His father, Sarma, is a chemical engineer and his mother, Lakshmi, is a homemaker.

Last year, Sai tied for seventh place. He tied for 16th place in 2001 and tied for 32nd place in 2000. His sister, Nivedita, tied for eighth place in 1997.

"Actually, I started studying in fourth grade and then I guess it's kind of like cumulative study all the way up to here," he said after surviving the grueling, 15-round contest by spelling such words as "rhathymia," "dipnoous" and "voussoir."

Evelyn Blacklock, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who is home-schooled in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., was the runner-up.

Earlier Thursday, Evelyn not only had to spell one of her words, but got to fully experience its meaning.

She stepped to the microphone at the sound of "tenebrosity," which means darkness, and began to question the announcer about its meaning and origins.

An unspoken answer came when the stage mysteriously went dark.

Unfazed, Evelyn lifted the numbered yellow square hanging from her neck and scribbled on the back of it with her finger before spelling, slowly and correctly, as the hotel ballroom's lights crept back on.

She later agonized over "anaphylaxis," a hypersensitivity caused by contact with a sensitizing agent, and "ganache," a sweet chocolate mixture used in baking, to advance another round.

The cable sports network ESPN provided live coverage.

In taped remarks, Education Secretary Rod Paige congratulated the 84 competitors who were still standing when the competition resumed Thursday, telling them they should be proud of making it to the finals.

"No matter whether you go out in the first round or become the next champ, your presence here spells only one thing," Paige said, then added: "S-u-c-c-e-s-s, success."

Jane Warunek, a 12-year-old eighth-grader in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., got a second chance after appealing her exit in the third round because she gave an alternate spelling of "diaconate." She later succumbed by misspelling "cernuous," which means drooping.

Some students moved closer to the final round by conquering such mouthfuls as "fissiparous," "platyhelminth" and "matripotestal."

Others drew the clang of the judge's bell after getting a word wrong. Among the stumpers were "preterlabent," "filipendulous" and "escheator."

There were plenty sighs of relief, high-fives and clenched fists jabbed into the air by the students who spelled correctly, and frowns and shrugs by those who were escorted off stage after their errors.

The event opened Wednesday with a field of 251 youngsters, ranging in age from 8 to 15. Each got one word to spell; 175 got them right.

Next came a written spelling test, introduced last year as a way to speed up the contest but ensure that every student gets at least once chance at the microphone. This year's bee is the largest ever, and spellers now tend to take more time before answering.

The exam narrowed the field to 84, who made the cut by missing 10 words or fewer.

Last year, it took 11 rounds to declare a winner, but that number has varied widely over the past decade. In 1997, victory came in the 23rd round.


TOPICS: Breaking News; Culture/Society; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Texas; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: homeschooling; private; public; rodpaige; saigunturi; spelling; spellingbee
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To: Thane_Banquo
"Probably a private Catholic school. I'm guessing all the kids from public school were discqualified when asked to spell constitution. I'm sure they wouldn't have ever seen or heard it before. "

I've got some good news for you; our public school district north of Peoria, Dunlap requires students to pass a Constitution test to graduate from 8th grade.

So all is not lost.
51 posted on 05/30/2003 5:52:14 AM PDT by Forgiven_Sinner (Praying for the Kingdom of God)
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To: Momaw Nadon
The winner is not home schooled. He attends St. Mark's School in Dallas. My sons attended this school as do now my grandsons. It is a wonderful school. But this kid's talent belongs to him, in my opinion, not the school.
52 posted on 05/30/2003 6:21:11 AM PDT by Dudoight
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To: ventana
Mid 90s.......but now our public high school is dumbed down completely and the drug use in our rural area is out of control. Pretty darn sad. All the best teachers left too....
53 posted on 05/30/2003 6:21:22 AM PDT by OldFriend (without the brave, there would be no land of the free)
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To: Momaw Nadon
do you ever wonder if maybe spelling bee success might not be the best guide to the quality of someone's education?
54 posted on 05/30/2003 6:25:22 AM PDT by babble-on
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To: heleny
If Sai Gunturi had attended a public school, he would still need to apply himself outside of class to learn the words; I wouldn't give his private school the credit for his own determination and hard work.

True enough. But isn't it just possible that the more rigorous the school academic environment, the more prepared, disciplined and motivated the student is to study and apply himself? In this respect, I believe the school deserves at least some indirect credit for the results. At the very least, it would sure explain the presence of non-government school children at the top of these competitions well out of proportion to their numbers in the general population.

55 posted on 05/30/2003 7:06:06 AM PDT by Emile
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To: heleny
ref: your post #17. PHOOEY and BALONEY and MALARKEY. Private schooled kids and home schooled kids blow the public scrools out of the water in every category.
56 posted on 05/30/2003 7:26:05 AM PDT by Capt.YankeeMike
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To: Momaw Nadon
I was runner up from my district twice (2nd and 3rd grades)and I still remember the words that tripped me up: granary---which I spelled "grainery" and independence which I spelled "independance".

I do not remember why I didn't try out again but I am still haunted by what might have been.

57 posted on 05/30/2003 7:34:35 AM PDT by eleni121
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To: heleny
Unfortunately you overlook the very purpose of public schools vs. private/home schools.

Public schools do not teach to learn, they do not teach to think. You are a number, a dollar amount and they must cram a certain amount of information into your head by graduation. Some will achieve to the low standards of public schools, others will blossom in college, most will become average citizens who don't vote and never realize the potential inside. The breakdown of our society shows this clearly.

You can spray whatever perfume you want on public ed. as it is today, it still stinks.

Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening...The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role."
- William Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889
58 posted on 05/30/2003 8:31:44 AM PDT by CyberCowboy777 (In those days... Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.)
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To: MNLDS
Honestly, the trend is that these kids' parents spend large amounts of the educational time on these areas, specifically for the competitions. I really don't see that as indicative of quality.
59 posted on 05/30/2003 9:20:31 AM PDT by sharktrager (There are 2 kids of people in this world: people with loaded guns and people who dig.)
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To: Momaw Nadon
The winner was not homeschooled but he definitely comes from a traditional family -- father is an engineer, mother at home governing the day-to-day affairs of the family.

What is more telling is that you never hear that these children come from liberal families. Have you ever heard that the "winner's father is an environmental activist, and his mother is a feminist lawyer"?

60 posted on 05/30/2003 11:52:43 AM PDT by tom h
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
Don't tell the NEA and the ACLU!
61 posted on 05/30/2003 12:40:48 PM PDT by Thane_Banquo
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Comment #62 Removed by Moderator

Comment #63 Removed by Moderator

To: keri
The student's family are devotees of Sai Baba.
Hence the name.
64 posted on 06/02/2003 2:24:27 PM PDT by Allan
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To: Forgiven_Sinner
How rude! I go to a public school with a great civics program!!!!!!!!!! i was in that spelling bee! just for the sake of anonymity, i won't tell my name, but i was in the top 35. you really should be careful before you offend someone else.
65 posted on 04/12/2004 6:32:48 AM PDT by origami0203
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To: babble-on
in my opinion, spelling bee success isn't a very good guide, because some people in the regionals didn't go to the greatest schools, but did a great job there. Some just had a knack for knowing and memorizing words.
66 posted on 04/12/2004 6:38:05 AM PDT by origami0203
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To: Momaw Nadon
I was in the National Spelling Bee in eighth grade. I tied for 100th place, but I'm not saying what word I missed; it's too easy. The worst part was that my whole class was studying a certain chapter in biology that week while I was gone, and when they asked what I missed, everybody said "Man, that's a piece of cake, loser."
67 posted on 04/12/2004 6:43:25 AM PDT by Flightdeck (Death is only a horizon)
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To: Capt.YankeeMike
I watched one National Spelling Bee where the winner was a girl who was home-schooled by her parents; both neurologists. She was absolutely, 100% CRAZY. Out of her mind. Bananas. She could spell, though.
68 posted on 04/12/2004 6:46:47 AM PDT by Flightdeck (Death is only a horizon)
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To: aristeides
"I know what "pococurante" means from Italian, but I've never seen the word used in English."

That's MY question. It seems as though an English Spelling Bee should feature words that are used in English discussion. If the object is to merely trip up a speller, one could easily substitute a compound Turkish or German word, but neither such examples would be used in English conversation. Unless, as noted, they had come into such wide use in English-speaking circles that they would be included in the current dictionary. The winner says he "studied" pococurante, so perhaps it has come into wide enough usage to be in the dictionary.

The Spelling Bee, as she is constituted, does exhibit an aptitude bias which keeps SOME excellent spellers out of the staged competition. To win (or do well), the spellers must be able to ORALLY spell a word without being able to SEE what it looks like. Many excellent spellers and grammarians don't have the aptitude that allows them to do this - they need to write out the spelling. I know. I'm one of them. I can spell correctly just about anything, but I rely on the visual image of the word to verify its correctness. People like me make excellent judges, but not competitors, in this type of competition.

I'm not complaining, mind you. We all have different aptitude sets. But the ability to spell, per se, is not what is being tested in a Spelling Bee. What IS being tested is the ability to spell a word without being able to write it. Unless some rule I've never heard of allows contestants to write the word out on paper and then read the spelling to the judges.

Michael

69 posted on 04/12/2004 7:09:21 AM PDT by Wright is right! (It's amazing how fun times when you're having flies.)
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To: origami0203
"in my opinion, spelling bee success isn't a very good guide, because some people in the regionals didn't go to the greatest schools, but did a great job there. Some just had a knack for knowing and memorizing words."

See my post about aptitude bias. Not all excellent spellers can do well in a spelling bee. Not only do you have to spell well, but you don't get the advantage of the visual cues that come with spelling the words IN WRITING. You have to either have the aptitude that allows you to visualize the word in your head, or the aptitude that allows you to memorize huge lists of word without the visual-conversion aptitude. In other wirds, spelling bees are not so much tests of the ability to spell as much as they are visualization-aptitude tests.

Dr. Johnson O'Connor was one of the modern pioneers in the development of Aptitude Testing, having been hired by GE in Boston many decades ago to find out why so many workers GE hired left the jobs they had. O'Connor was one of the first to exposit the idea that many seemingly unrelated aptitudes can predispose one to success in differing areas of pursuit. For instance, the aptitude of Pitch Discrimination had obvious benefit to musicians and singers. But O'Connor also found that those who scored very high in Pitch Discrimination also excelled at doing all kinds of close-tolerance work, such as jewelers, high-end machinists, and artists. To O'Connor, Pitch Discrimination is simply the MANNER in which one measures a person's ability to pursue very finely detail work.

Dr. O'Connor was also the first to isolate and test for Structural Visualization - in fact, he wrote more than one book on the aptitude. SV is the aptitude that allows a person to visualize, say, the design of a building or a room before one nail has ever been driven. Engineers and architects obviously have the aptitude, but so do those who are excellent at organization.They "visualize" in their heads how things are supposed to be laid out. Top military strategists also are strong in this aptitude.

Those lacking in Structural Visualization are conversly high in Abstract Visualization, which would be helpful to those, for example, in a Spelling Bee. In the general population, about 70% of people are high in Abstract Visualization, leaving only 30% high in Structural. Which is why the general population seems genuinely baffled by someone who can come into a situation and instantly visualize a solution to whatever problemos he sees. The guy who can do this is high in Structural Visualization.

Just a few notes for those of you who were craving a bit of aptitude exposition with your morning coffee.

Michael

70 posted on 04/12/2004 7:30:51 AM PDT by Wright is right! (It's amazing how fun times when you're having flies.)
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To: babble-on
do you ever wonder if maybe spelling bee success might not be the best guide to the quality of someone's education?

It was a fairly accurate predictor of mine.
71 posted on 04/12/2004 7:34:43 AM PDT by Xenalyte (I may not agree with your bumper sticker, but I shall defend to the death your right to stick it)
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To: origami0203; hellinahandcart
How rude! I go to a public school with a great civics program!!!!!!!!!! i was in that spelling bee! just for the sake of anonymity, i won't tell my name, but i was in the top 35. you really should be careful before you offend someone else.

Might it be a live one?
72 posted on 04/12/2004 7:35:44 AM PDT by Xenalyte (I may not agree with your bumper sticker, but I shall defend to the death your right to stick it)
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To: origami0203; Eaker; Judith Anne; netmilsmom; Devil_Anse; T Minus Four; ~Kim4VRWC's~; retrokitten; ..
How rude! I go to a public school with a great civics program!!!!!!!!!! i was in that spelling bee! just for the sake of anonymity, i won't tell my name, but i was in the top 35. you really should be careful before you offend someone else.

Your school must be really proud today.

So, when are they going to get around to teaching you about capitalization?

73 posted on 04/12/2004 9:01:39 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: hellinahandcart; Xenalyte
ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!
74 posted on 04/12/2004 9:20:54 AM PDT by Gabz (Stress out Streisand.............................DONATE MONTHLY)
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To: Momaw Nadon
I don't understand the status folks give these spelling bees; it's just rote memorization. Sure, it's important to have a good vocabulary but dictionaries exist so that you don't have memorize every single word in the English language. I would rather see creative essay writing or applied science competitions have the same level of public interest.
75 posted on 04/12/2004 9:32:40 AM PDT by Truthsayer20
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To: Xenalyte
The ability to spell correctly is closely associated with a large vocabulary - and Dr. Johnson O'Connor (see above post re: aptitudes) has found that there is an absolute correlation between vocabulary and career earnings.

However, as I've noted, there is a difference between the ability to spell well and to perform well at spelling bees. To perform well at spelling bees requires an aptitude not related to spelling at all, but related to mental vision.

Michael

76 posted on 04/12/2004 9:51:06 AM PDT by Wright is right! (It's amazing how fun times when you're having flies.)
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To: Truthsayer20
"I don't understand the status folks give these spelling bees; it's just rote memorization."

Not totally. A lot of it is the ability to reason-out a word's spelling based upon the basic rules of spelling - handy if you don't happen to know the word. It also helps to know English etymology.

Michael

77 posted on 04/12/2004 9:53:51 AM PDT by Wright is right! (It's amazing how fun times when you're having flies.)
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To: CyberCowboy777
That is it right there. They not only do not teach students to learn or think, they prohibit it. And there is always the argument about socialization. The only socialization I see in public schools is the need for everyone to be the same and not "rock the boat." God forbid if you should.

I am so proud of my homeschooled children's ability to want to learn, seek out learning, and knowing how to use resources available to them.
78 posted on 04/12/2004 10:01:08 AM PDT by ican'tbelieveit
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To: Xenalyte
Hey, thanks for responding to my post after a pause of only 347 days. I've been waiting here without food or water for someone to ping me back on that.

I think basically there are good spellers and bad spellers. I have always been a good speller, but it was never something that was taught to me. Once I've seen a word once, like Radisson, for example, I always spell it right after that. But its not a function of the quality of school that I went to, nor is the fact that my father can't spell at all a function of his overall intelligence or the quality of his schools.

To me, its more about having - or not having - an aptitude or knack in very specific, but not all that important, realm.
79 posted on 04/12/2004 10:37:20 AM PDT by babble-on (I'm not a monthly donor, but I play one on T.V.)
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To: hellinahandcart; origami0203; Owl_Eagle
What a coincidence! I think Owl_Eagle was in that spelling bee too.
80 posted on 04/12/2004 10:54:07 AM PDT by Thinkin' Gal
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To: CyberCowboy777
If it is not a home taught student winning these things, it is a private taught student.

A couple of years ago, a local public school kid won it. His younger, also public-schooled, brother won the state bee this year, and I believe he competed at nationals.

Let's not let our enthusiasms get the best of us.... ;-)

81 posted on 04/12/2004 10:56:28 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: CyberCowboy777
Public schools do not teach to learn, they do not teach to think.

One must be careful not to overgeneralize, don't you think?

82 posted on 04/12/2004 10:58:15 AM PDT by r9etb
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To: babble-on
Hey, thanks for responding to my post after a pause of only 347 days. I've been waiting here without food or water for someone to ping me back on that.

You can blame the Insider Troll for that (see #s 62 & 63). It came here pretending to have participated in that spelling bee, and in so doing, bumped the thread back into Latest Posts.

It always resurrects old threads. We have no idea why.

83 posted on 04/12/2004 11:01:26 AM PDT by hellinahandcart
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To: emmyloukay
I am wreatched at spelling

Yep.

84 posted on 04/12/2004 11:01:30 AM PDT by Old Professer
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To: Momaw Nadon
Evelyn Blacklock, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who is home-schooled in Tuxedo Park, N.Y., was the runner-up.

Hurray for home schoolers!
85 posted on 04/12/2004 11:03:09 AM PDT by Rummyfan
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To: lilylangtree
I'm sure the NEA is opposed to these spelling bee's because "not everyone can win" and that they lower the "self-esteem" of the non-winners.
86 posted on 04/12/2004 11:04:00 AM PDT by Guillermo (Your own personal Konservative Klick-Guerilla)
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To: r9etb
I wonder how invloved his parents are in his schooling.

I wonder if the parents blame the school or their teachers whenever they get in trouble.

I wonder if their parents reward them by allowing them to have purple mohawks when they behave properly...
87 posted on 04/12/2004 11:09:30 AM PDT by Guillermo (Your own personal Konservative Klick-Guerilla)
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To: Guillermo
I don't think they're happy that homeschoolers are permitted to participate because all homeschoolers do all day is sit home and prepare for the spelling bee while public school kids have to attend class.
88 posted on 04/12/2004 11:16:00 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: ladylib
Of course, and study for the SAT all day, because, homeschoolers score much higher on that test as well.
89 posted on 04/12/2004 11:18:49 AM PDT by Guillermo (Your own personal Konservative Klick-Guerilla)
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To: Flightdeck
LOL! What did she do, was it really embarrassing???
90 posted on 04/12/2004 11:24:33 AM PDT by Hildy (A kiss is the unborn child knocking at the door.)
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To: Guillermo
They score higher on the ACT too.
91 posted on 04/12/2004 11:27:40 AM PDT by ladylib
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To: r9etb
Children who can learn and think while in public school do so in spite of public school.

The system is designed to create cogs, in spite of that the human spirit endures, just as it has always done.
92 posted on 04/12/2004 11:36:09 AM PDT by CyberCowboy777 (We should never ever apologize for who we are, what we believe in, and what we stand for.)
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To: ladylib
Well of course! After all, they do nothing but study for specific tests...is it any wonder they do better?

I bet if there was a test on the UN, Earth Day, Tolerance and Multiculturalism, public school students would rout homeschoolers.
93 posted on 04/12/2004 11:37:49 AM PDT by Guillermo (Your own personal Konservative Klick-Guerilla)
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To: Thinkin' Gal; hellinahandcart; ~Kim4VRWC's~

In fact I was in that spelling bee as well, but it was a complete sham.  Having shown my spelling acumen with such words as apoplexy, eunuch, and George Stephanopolis, I was given the word “tit-mouse” in the 11th round.  I was unable to spell it in continuous tries due to my incurable case of the giggles. 

 That, coupled with the fact that I was taught all my spelling in my civics class.  It did impinge on the time that we’d normally spend learning about the founding fathers, the different amendments to The Constitution, the separation of powers, you know, the trivial little stuff that one picks up on just by watching the ABC World News Tonight.

Owl_Eagle

”Unleash the Hogs of Peace.”
P.J. O'Rourke Parliament of Whores

94 posted on 04/12/2004 11:41:51 AM PDT by South Hawthorne ("Kill my boss? Dare I live the American Dream?" ~ Homer Simpson)
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To: r9etb
Lets not let our apathy get the best of us.... ;-)

The system is broke, despite those that break free, the sooner we accept that the sooner we can rebuild.
95 posted on 04/12/2004 11:47:53 AM PDT by CyberCowboy777 (We should never ever apologize for who we are, what we believe in, and what we stand for.)
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To: Hildy
She kept covering her face and making weird motions and noises. It sounded like that movie where Jodie Foster invents her own language. When the semi-legible letters did come out, they were always sang at a different note to create some strange kind of song. I think her parents were performing psychological experiments on her for their research or something.
96 posted on 04/12/2004 12:08:42 PM PDT by Flightdeck (Death is only a horizon)
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To: Guillermo
I bet they would too, heh, heh, heh.

Lot of good it will do them in the long run.
97 posted on 04/12/2004 12:09:26 PM PDT by ladylib
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To: Wright is right!
I'm the same way. Excellent speller, but I never got past my school in the Spelling Bee.

I learn visually. That's just the way I've always been. I can't get directions by people telling me, they have to write it down, or I use a map. I didn't absorb teacher's lectures too well -- I usually had a friend that would take notes and I would read them, or just the material that the lecture was based on.
98 posted on 04/12/2004 12:45:25 PM PDT by stands2reason ( During the cola wars, France was occupied by Pepsi for six months.)
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To: Flightdeck
Oh my, it sounds HORRIBLE! (Wish I had seen it!).
99 posted on 04/12/2004 4:39:50 PM PDT by Hildy (A kiss is the unborn child knocking at the door.)
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