Grade 6 student competing in Nova Scotia spelling bee today

Published on February 21, 2014
Grade 6 student Isaac MacDonald takes a look in a dictionary at the Dr. Thomas McCulloch School in Pictou yesterday. The 11-year-old is in Halifax to compete against 43 other students in the Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia Spelling Bee today at 1 p.m. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

PICTOU – For the last month, Grade 6 student Isaac MacDonald has wondered how he’s going to spell it out for you.

It’s not surprising, since he’s Pictou County’s representative at the Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia Spelling Bee.

The 11-year-old student at Dr. Thomas McCulloch School in Pictou will join 43 finalists from Sydney to Yarmouth for the spelling bee in Halifax this weekend. The winner will take home the title of Nova Scotia’s Spelling Champion. But MacDonald considers himself a newcomer to the spelling circuit.

“I got started in this actually because I wasn’t a good speller,” admitted MacDonald. “In fact, I had trouble with the word ‘furniture’ so I did the spelling bee to get better at spelling.”

From then on, he set out to conquer not just furniture, but all words and in several languages. His goal started about a month ago when he completed the in-house spelling bee. However, he said preparing to be tested in front of his teachers feels much different than preparing for a crowd.

“I was excited then,” he said. “Now, for the event coming up, I’m feeling the opposite of confident.”

Nonetheless, Principal Jim Ryan of Pictou Academy and Dr. Thomas McCulloch School noted that the school is well represented by MacDonald.

“The McCulloch School has seen representation at the spelling bee for the past few years,” he said. “Isaac is a nice guy and he’s a great speller.”

To prepare, Isaac has been reading constantly and reviewing a list of words that may be called upon in tomorrow’s competition. And no, he hasn’t just been reading the dictionary.

“I really enjoy fantasy and fiction books,” MacDonald said. “I enjoy Rick Riordan and his Percy Jackson series.”

He’s also partial to Latin, noting that it’s much easier to spell than new world languages such as Hawaiian or Mi’kmaq. In his spare time, he takes piano lessons in New Glasgow.

“It’s always great to have a student get to display their talents and work at something they’re good at,” said Ryan.

The spelling bee will begin at 1 p.m. in the Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School, and run until a champion has been determined. While admission is free, the event will also be live streamed at

The Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia Spelling Bee is an annual event for students from across the province, and a local spelling bee sponsor of Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The champion of The Chronicle Herald Nova Scotia Spelling Bee will earn a $5,000 Education Bursary from the Nova Scotia Egg Producers and will represent Nova Scotia at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

On Twitter: @NGNewsJohn