Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Friday, 16 July 2010 14:03 UK

A sting in the tail at the spelling bee finals

The Year 7 pupils from Culcheth High School in Cheshire took part in the final of a national spelling bee organised by the Times newspaper.

The event on the 24 June 2010 took place at The Institute of Education in London. The "Culcheth Eagles" finished in second place, just one point behind the winners.

By Rowan and Andrew
School Reporters from Culcheth High School, Cheshire

 Pupils from Culcheth High School in Cheshire with their Spelling Bee medals
Adrenaline-charged, exhilarating and nerve-wracking are just some of the many words to describe Culcheth Eagles' brilliant Spelling Bee journey.
Rowan, competitor and School Reporter

The Culcheth Eagles sit around the table, trying not to look nervous. The team is four Year 7 students, two boys, two girls - who are equally as good as each other- but some specialise in key areas, for example, Rowan for quick-fire and Andrew for the first round spelling play off.

Forty hopefuls arrived to compete in the second Times Spelling Bee final. Dick and Dom were the hosts and the editor of the newspaper was also there. It was quite an exciting and grand event. It was buzzing with energy.

We met after school every Thursday for nine months and used activities on the Spelling Bee website to help us train. We won the local and semi-final heats. Before we knew it, the final had begun.

Spelling rules

In the first round, one person from each team has to spell a selected word chosen by the "Spell Master". If they spell it correctly, they continue to the next round. If not, they're out of the first round. This is done in a team of three.

The second round is a quick-fire test and a team of three spellers from each school spell words as quickly as they can within a time limit of two minutes. They can choose the level of difficultly of the word - easy, medium or hard - and if they spell a word incorrectly, they don't earn the points for their team.

Success, ecstasy, anxiety and defeat. That pretty much sums up Culcheth High School's experience. We never expected to come this far anyway. At first we thought the opposition would be greater but after we won the first round by 12 points we may have got our hopes up too much. The final wasn't as we expected.

Practising the same thing again and again and knowing we lost by only one point was the hardest - and the easiest? Nothing.

Culcheth High School Pupils at The Institute of Education in London
The busy bees face up to the challenge at The Institute of Education in London

Gillian Taylor, the team manager also showed her empathy for the players. She said: "I am so very proud of the students, who have worked extremely hard to get this far in the competition. To lose in the final seconds is heartbreaking, but they can hold their heads up high as they have represented both the school, and themselves, with pride and dignity."

It's not hard to see that, had it been a better day, Culcheth High might have won.

On air

Being interviewed by Radio Merseyside was really fun, exciting and exhilarating. It was great knowing we had support from the north-west, plus it was a new experience for us. We hope to be "Spelling Mentors" for the new Year 7 team next year.

Adrenaline-charged, exhilarating and nerve-wracking are just some of the many words to describe Culcheth Eagles' brilliant Spelling Bee journey. We were so lucky to get through the local and regional heats, let alone get all the way to London; and losing by that one point made us all think we were failures - temporarily, of course!

Stepping up to a microphone, spelling words and hoping they would come out correct, was thoroughly terrifying.

We were just lucky that we had the chance to take part in this thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime event as it was an enjoyable experience which we will never forget.

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