Cliff Kincaid
Lessons from a spelling bee
By Cliff Kincaid
March 10, 2012

My 12-year-old son Christian won the Calvert County, Maryland, spelling bee on Wednesday night and now goes to the national bee. We are ecstatic.

Christian spelled all of his words correctly. In addition to the tricky "Mistletoe," they were:
  • gardenia

  • contiguous

  • benevolent

  • pochismo

  • philanthropy

  • Babka

  • oratorio
By the way, Babka is a Polish bread traditionally served for Easter. Pochismo is a Spanish word. It refers to the incorrect use of language caused by interference from American English. Oratorio is a musical composition for voices and orchestra.

One of Christian's secrets of success, in addition to lots of study, was asking for the origin of some of the words, in order to understand how they were probably spelled. Students are allowed to have the words repeated and can get the language of origin. This helped with Babka (Polish origin) and pochismo (Spanish origin).

Christian has become the BMOC — Big Man on Campus. Now he's off to the National Spelling Bee at the end of May.

As a proud father, I have a right to brag. My kid has smarts, as you can see, but he also has moral character. He is polite and respectful of others, but he stands up to bullies and cheaters.

I am, of course, a journalist, which I think has had an influence on Christian to read and write. He reads all the time. I tell Christian to do his own work. I tell him not to make fun of people. I tell him to be a leader and inspire others to better behavior.

Christian thinks for himself. This is how knowledge is born.

My advice to those of you who have been critical of me for standing up to Rush Limbaugh: think for yourself. Don't be a "dittohead" for his phony "Gospel" of personal invective. Please stand up for moral values. We cannot hope to save America if we encourage or defend those who drag America down. We should not defend "conservatives" who are in the gutter with the liberals.

We do not have to sink to their level. We should not resort to insulting or abusive language. As an alternative to Limbaugh, I recommend Christian conservative broadcaster Janet Parshall. She is on 700 stations from Alaska to the Virgin Islands. Please listen to her.

Like the purpose of a spelling bee, I believe we should strive for excellence in what we do — and say. My thanks to those of you who recognize that we can — and should — do better.

We have to teach our children well. We have to offer them good role models. This is our future.

I encourage Christian to follow role models like Tim Tebow. You will never catch Tebow disrepecting people and calling them names. He is articulate, Christian, and conservative. I bought Christian a copy of Tim Tebow's book Through My Eyes. I recommend it.

I myself try to give him a positive role model. We have to instill moral values in our children. Much credit goes to my wife and his Mom — Lisa Kincaid, who teaches the Bible to him.

The Spelling Bee rewards excellence. And this is a good lesson to us. Can't we raise our standards in society? Can't we demand that people in the media practice and promote decency? Shouldn't we expect our "leaders" to live up to higher standards?

The cable channel HBO is running a movie ("Game Change") that reportedly savages Sarah Palin. HBO should be condemned. I have written numerous articles in defense of Sarah Palin and her devotion to conservative values, especially the right to life.

But don't condemn HBO while celebrating those, like Limbaugh, who engage in insulting, abusive, or denunciatory language. Let's stop excusing bad behavior by pointing to bad behavior by others. Yes, there is a liberal double standard. But we should maintain higher standards than the liberals. Is this too much to ask?

Can I give you some other good news?

My son goes to a public school. He is getting an excellent education there. Credit also has to go to his Windy Hill Middle School public school teachers and staff and administrative personnel. That includes Karen Burnett, Principal; Kevin Howard, Vice Principal; teacher Sharon LeBrun; and Anne Jones in the media center. Thanks to all of them.

We can't abandon the public schools. We have to support and strengthen them. Get involved!!!

"My whole body was kind of shaking; it just felt nerve-wracking, to sum it up," Christian told the Calvert Recorder newspaper, calling his advancement to the national bee "unbelievable."

Reporter Laura Buck quoted me as saying, "Every time he went through a round we were so excited" and that our family had a nice dinner in Solomons [Maryland] before the spelling bee, "so he had a full stomach."

The story went on, "In addition to being a strong speller Cliff Kincaid said his son is a well-rounded student who enjoys playing piano, basketball, video games and reading.

'He usually carries two or three books wherever he goes,' Cliff Kincaid said."

I left a couple things out — such as that Christian attends church with us at Jesus the Divine Word in Huntingtown, Maryland, and that he plays clarinet. He also participates in a Christian youth group.

I personally stopped by the offices of the Calvert Recorder on Friday to thank Ms. Buck for the excellent story she wrote about the spelling bee. Her story captured the essence of the event.

This, too, is good news: GOOD JOURNALISM IS ALIVE!!!! Reporters and papers are still covering community events of interest and concern to citizens. I am so proud of Christian and so thankful that we were a part of it. Thanks to God for this inspiring and great event.

One day before the Spelling Bee, we participated in a special Healing Mass at our church with Fr. Larry Swink and Fr. Bill Halbing. We asked for the healing of our minds, bodies, and spirits. I asked for the power to see things clearly.

I see things more clearly than ever before. Our future lies in our children. Let us raise them right. We cannot let them down.

© Cliff Kincaid


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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