SUAB hosts their first spelling bee competition


Courtesy of N.C. A&T Student University Activities Board (SUAB)

Joshua Fletcher, Contributor

“Your word is A-P-O-C-R-Y-P-H-A-L.”

The assertive, crisp voice of Special Guest Judge Mr. Bryon Turman split the stage into two halves at the Student University Activities Board’s (SUAB) presentation of Aggie and the Bee, a homage to the classic “Akeelah and the Bee” directed by Doug Atchison. 

Frances Kendrick, a junior nursing student originally from Tallahassee, Florida, stood on the left side of the stage. Kendrick, along with her fellow Aggies and friends in the crowd, had not seen the fateful word coming after a few rounds of NCAT-inspired words namely “F-R-A-Z-I-E-R,” after attorney and former chair of the board of trustees at N.C. A&T Robert H. Frazier (Frazier Hall), “M-A-R-T-E-E-N-A,” after the former dean of engineering Dr. Jerald M. Marteena (Marteena Hall) and “I-L-L-U-S-T-R-I-O-U-S,” after N.C. A&T.  

Kendrick noted after the competition that she was no stranger to the moment, though, harnessing the composure her younger self held on similar stages.

“I used to be in spelling bees when I was a little kid… so I just thought it was a fun throwback,” Kendrick said.

Although she misspelled the word, Kendrick knew this did not mean she had lost the competition, instilling her faith in the other final contestant, sophomore management information systems student, Serena Roberts. 

It was Roberts’ first time participating at an N.C. A&T student event; her nerves were met with a smile from behind her mask.

“The contestants I met just now, they are cool. We were hyping each other up and encouraging one another.” Roberts said.

In Akeelah and the Bee fashion, Roberts purposely misspelled   “A-P-O-C-R-Y-P-H-A-L”—both contestants missed the “Y” and other letters unique to their responses—to give herself and Kendrick a fairer shot at the winning prize. 

In the film “Akeelah and The Bee,” Akeelah and her former rival Dylan Chu underwent a similar dilemma, where both competitors misspelled the word on purpose to become co-champions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Soon after, Kendrick won the $100 worth of Flex dollars and additional prizes on the word “T-R-I-C-H-O-T-O-M-Y” after a seat-clenching back-and-forth between the two finalists.

As a Florida Aggie, Kendrick had support from members of the Florida Aggies student organization, who the crowd favored to win the spelling bee. Jakobi Johnson, a senior journalism and mass communications student from Florida got eliminated in an earlier round. He was especially glad to see other Florida Aggies competing at a SUAB event.

“I thought I would be the sole representative, but knowing that (there were) other individuals from Florida representing as well made me one-hundred percent more confident in myself,” Johnson said.

Aggie and the Bee was the SUAB’s first event of the Spring semester. The Board returns recharged from an ESL Retreat conducted over winter break and aims to maintain their momentum after a November that kept them at the forefront of N.C. A&T social buzz, ranging from a SUAB spin on the NPR Tiny Desk Concert and Food Truck Festival

Kendall Johnson, a senior public relations student and SUAB Speakers Chair commented about the significance behind coordinating this year’s SUAB events and their mission for students.

“As a team, we are so excited! A lot of us are seniors, so this is our last hurrah. We want to make sure that we are doing everything we can for the students since we have been in a pandemic,” Johnson said. “Being an Aggie is not like going to any school and having an Aggie (dog) as a mascot. Being an Aggie is an extreme feeling and (you will have) extreme memories… and we want to make sure that you create those memories.”

For more information about SUAB’s upcoming events, you can follow them on Instagram (@ncatsuab).