The expressions on the six young faces on the stage at Belmont High School Saturday night looked as if they had just ate a dish of cooked land snails rather then just being asked to spell the word.
But the Super Spelling Cheetahs 2.0 team of six graders appeared from the audience to know that the French word had a silent "t" – much like the Gallophile pronunciation of our ville, bel-MOH – hidden at its rear.
And when the white board were raised, the fifth graders of the Buzz Words team – Joia Findeis, William Titus and Anne Fletcher – appeared to have erased the needed consonant.
And next to them, the Cheetahs 2.0 had the word to a "t" and were crowded this year's spelling victors. And it wouldn't have advantageous betting against the team as two of the members were part of the group that won last year's contest.
Jane Mahon joining last year's teammates, Abigail Mohr and Rida Sharief, to win star-shaped trophies and a $100 CD from Monahan, CEO of Belmont Savings Bank which was one of the bee's five major sponsors.
The other winner from Saturday's day (and night) long event was the host, the Foundation for Belmont Education, which raised $20,000 to sponsor grants to teachers and to provide supplies and technology to the classrooms of each of Belmont's six public schools.
Saturday was a marathon for the sponsors, the "bee" officials and especially Greg Stone, who once again took over the MC role with a great amount of enthusiasm even in the seventh hour.
The day started with kindergarteners who in nearly each case spelled each word perfectly including "mom" and "dad" and "frog."
For all grades, most of words came from a spelling list that each class studied for the contest.
The final competitive round with fifth and sixth graders from the Chenery Middle School saw words such "rendezvous" (another French word!) and "sarcophagus" which drew many blank stares from parents and judges.
As for the winners, they may have appeared cool on stage but were "shaking all the time" on stage said Mohr because the team did not have that many practices due to other activities on their schedules.
"Well, it's exciting to win again but I was a nervous wreck," said Sharief.
When asked what makes a good speller, Mohr said outside reading helped her as she knew many of the off-list words she could spell from books she read.
"She reads 23 hours a day," said Mohr's younger brother.