The Student Events Board, Siena College Commuter Association and the Siena Student Senate proudly presented the first annual Spelling Bee on April 6, 2019. The eager contestants consisted of 30 Siena students. Competition was rigorous throughout the event. Although there were only three rounds, students tried their hardest to keep the game going, lasting at least an hour and a half. The judges included two students, and two English professors, Dr. Spain-Savage and Dr. Dearing. Students were told no foul language, no cheating and no phones. The consequences would be elimination. Once rules were presented, it was time to start the spelling.
Round one was fairly easy and left many of the competitors remaining by the end. David Jeram Jr. was prompted to spell the word “gerbil.” He confidently replied with the correct spelling. Other students were stumped on words like “khaki,” “bassoon,” and “banzai.” Three students were eliminated in the first round and the second round was in full swing. In this round, the words began to become much more complex. The audience became more invested and cheered on their friends that were on stage. Judges tested the participants with words like “cornucopia” and “juxtaposition.” Yet the second phase became even more difficult. The competitors battled head to head and one must be eliminated. Although at times the competition was intense, students often joked light-heartedly. Wearing dark black shades to intimidate his competitors, Matt Bird amused the audience by unbuttoning his top each round he answered a word correctly. Michael Averill and Matt Bird competed against the word curmudgeon. In the end, Averill won, leaving Bird to take a seat in the audience. Averill was later stumped on this round when battling against Rida Merchant with the word “hieroglyphic.”
Periodically, the competitors were allowed a break during the raffle. Audience members were given one free ticket to win a mystery gift that was wrapped. Although the participants were not eligible to win any of these prizes, they had the opportunity to win Siena Fest tickets and an AppleWatch. The top five that remained were given free tickets to the upcoming Fetty Wap concert on April 12. The lucky recipients were Rida Merchant, Michael Bove, Nour Mihamou, David Jeram Jr., and Brandon Brajlall. The winner of the spelling bee, Brandon Brajlall, was awarded an AppleWatch as well as the first ever Siena Spelling Bee trophy. The victory did not come easy though. His competition, Mihamou, put up a good fight. They went back and forth with 11 different words before Brajlall took home the title. The intense round consisted of words like “ichthyophagist,” “ephemeral,” “umlaut,” “septuagenarian,” and “tourniquet.” Finally, after several rounds of long and painstaking words, Brajlall won with the word “rheumatism.”