Spelling Bee: Kid Gets Second Chance After District Screws Up

Many of us can go back to our childhoods and remember the agonizing feelings of competing in a spelling bee.

For a Selma student,{} getting the word right was not the problem, it was convincing the judges she spelled it right, and should not be disqualified.

"Braille." That is the word 12-year-old Sierra Shoemaker had to spell in the Selma School District Spelling Bee last Friday.

She spelled it correctly, but on the judges and word master spelling sheet it was spelled{}with one less "L."

The judges said Sierra spelled it wrong.

"I didn't really want to say anything because when the word master tells you spelled a word wrong you don't really want to argue with him," Sierra said. "So, I was shocked I kind of just said 'what?' I looked around at the audience and half of them were looking at each other murmuring."

Sierra graciously took home her second-place trophy.

But soon afterward, they got a call from Selma district officials.

Sierra's mom, Renee Shoemaker, said she was told on Tuesday that a petition had been made as well as an appeal for the original answer.

". . . the appeal was no. I took it pretty hard and so did Sierra," Shoemaker said.

However, Selma Unified School District officials realized it was human error, and they would not take no for an answer.

" [We] Finally got some resolution and were given permission to submit three names rather than two," said Teresa Wood, Selma Unified's assistant superintendent.

So Sierra is in and is busy learning her new words for the Fresno County Spelling Bee competition set for March 21.

She said that she is excited for the county contest.

But more importantly, she come away from the incident with a lesson.

"If you don't get it the first time, all you have to do is try harder the next time," she said.

Sierra wants to thank everyone with Selma Unified for their help.