As a regional spelling bee champ, Surrey’s Harbin Kaur is excited to compete against other students at nationals this month.
The nine-year-old Newton resident won the regional Primary Division event on Oct. 31, and is now preparing to win the Spelling Bee of Canada title on Nov. 29.
The spelling bees are held on the Zoom conference platform this fall, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harbin, a Grade 4 student at Khalsa School in Newton, will compete against 23 other regional contestants, in her first year of entering spelling bees.
She’s always enjoyed spelling and reading, along with chess, singing and math.
“I wanted to actually test myself and see how much I’m good at spelling,” Harbin told the Now-Leader in a phone call that also involved her father, Harkuljit.
The family moved from India to Canada in 2018.
At the B.C.-region bee on Halloween, Harbin’s winning word was signal.
Now, she’s been sent a guidebook with words for her to study before the Spelling Bee of Canada championship. “That just arrived today,” Harkuljit said on Monday (Nov. 9), “and she hasn’t had a chance to look at it yet.”
Harbin said she sees spelling bees as a chance to learn new words and improve her vocabulary.
“And I saw my friends doing it, too – a lot of people were doing it, and I wanted to try it for once,” Harbin said with confidence.
She said she’d rather do an in-person spelling bee than one on Zoom, but that’s the way it is in 2020.
“I did not like the Zoom,” noted Harbin, who said she missed being in a room with other contestants, like during the school-level championship earlier this year.
During the online competition, students spell their assigned words before SBOC officials. Breakout rooms are used to guide participants through the rounds of the competition.
“We’ve held annual spelling bees for the past 32 years, and the pandemic challenged us to introduce a new way for us to deliver our program,” said Julie Spence, SBOC founder and chair, in a news release. “Our team stepped up to lead the way, developing and launching our new virtual platform. Pivoting our in-person events to live streaming virtual events creates a new channel for our community to continue to support student literacy.”
SBOC chapters are located in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. In its 33-year history, SBOC has hosted more than 50,000 children as spelling bee participants. More details are posted to spellingbeeofcanada.ca.