Kailua Elementary 3rd grader creates virtual spelling bee


HONOLULU (KHON2) — An Oahu 3rd grader isn’t letting the pandemic stop him from achieving his goals.

Last November, Kade Jaffe had an idea to start a school spelling bee at Kailua Elementary School.

When the coronavirus outbreak began, he ran into some challenges with schools switching to online learning.

“Well one time I was just watching a show on YouTube and they were doing a spelling bee, and I thought we should do a spelling bee,” Kade said about how he got the idea.

The spelling bee was the first spelling bee for Kailua Elementary School since 1992.

With the help of his dad, Michael Jaffe, Kade made it happen.

“He’s always been a good student and enjoys learning,” Kade’s dad said. “He often likes to push himself a little further than what’s just going on in the classroom.”

Organizing a spelling bee during a pandemic, however, wasn’t easy.

“There was some challenges getting all of the students online, making sure they had internet connection,” Michael Jaffe said. “Spelling lists to hand out to the students and we coordinated weekly spell downs in the classroom.”

The spelling bee wasn’t a homework assignment or a class project. So why start one?

“I just kind of wanted to do it for fun,” Kade said.

Kade’s passion for learning and excitement for the spelling bee rubbed off on other students.

“Kade was really impressed at how excited the kids were for the extracurricular activity to study outside of the classroom,” his dad said.

Of course, there were trophies and a grand prize of $100.

“I learned that spelling bees are competitive,” Kade said.

Michael Jaffe is a proud dad.

“I think the idea that my son brought something up to me, and I said, ‘Hey, let’s make that happen, so he got to see the work and the organization involved to make a project like this come to fruition,” Jaffe said.

The winning word for the 3rd-6th grade category might surprise you: Claustrophobia.

The plan now is to continue hosting school spelling bees every year. Kade hopes next year it can be in-person.


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