Science fairs and spelling bees

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By Bernadette Lauritzen

This week we find many students involved in spelling bees and science fairs. Sometimes it takes an incentive to get them involved the first time. Many students realize that the incentive is prizes and that gets the fish on the hook.
Bless the teacher that gives extra credit, before or after the fact. Even for adults, sometimes the only incentive for doing anything additional is the overtime pay.
Children are no different, and thanks to a variety of organizations, new faces are lining up at the door, to give it a try. Thanks to volunteers, students get the encouragement they need to try it again next year.
A kind word can be just as wonderful as a prize and empower the youth to take that project a step further the following year.
Spelling bees are similar, in the same out-of-the-box kind of way. Often it takes a little encouragement or extra credit to try something new or put yourself out there, in front of your peers. It is impressive, with the younger set, to see them give it a try; no hard feelings, no big disappointment if it doesn’t work out.
Rumor has it that there were 68 kids at the spelling bee on Thursday at Los Alamos Middle School. Some that placed didn’t even think they had a chance. I also heard that some missed on purpose for whatever reason, but at least gave it a shot.
If you didn’t catch the science fair last week, perhaps you’ll stop by the county spelling bee tonight at Chamisa Elementary.
Pronouncer extraordinaire, Judy Crocker will belt out the bee words with p-a-n-c-h-e, a noun
 meaning verve; style; flair. Volunteers like Sue Hofmann, Morrie Pongratz and a representative from the Los Alamos Police Department will listen intently as fourth through eighth graders give it their best.
These two events wouldn’t happen without two very great people. Dawn Brown and Debbie Grothaus are the key players in the two events coming off without a hitch.
Brown has really turned the science fair around in the last two years after taking a job with Los Alamos Public Schools.
Brown has rallied not only volunteers, but the sites to be more engaged, the prizes to be more substantial and the little guys to get a foot in the door before they become too jaded by age, peer pressure or a lack of encouragement to continue.
Grothaus has volunteered for spelling bees longer than many of the participants have been in school. She has garnered great volunteers and year after year puts on an event for which to be proud.
So take a second and make a difference by saying thanks to these tried and true women. The time and effort put in far exceeds what you get a chance to hear about.

Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets Coordinator for Los Alamos, sponsored by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce. Check out the Assets In Action Facebook page for tidbits of information to help you make a difference in the daily lives of our community.