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It’s called the Joe E. Barnett Memorial Spelling Bee because Joe E. Barnett died of spelling-related injuries. Not actually spelling-bee-related; this was back in the forties before you could use “bee” to refer to phenomena outside a hive.

But you can now, so every year the kids at FMS compete in some sort of spectacular dedication to his sacrifice. “Daguerreotype!” gasps Claudia, scrambling up the hill, dodging boulders. “D-A-G-U-E-R-Eaaaagghhh”

“You know what killed him?” asks Tilman, sweating his turn. “Barnett?”

“No,” says Carlos.


“Seriously?” grumbles Carlos. “That’s a fourth-grade word.”