On January 13th, 2021, the Optimist Club of West St. Paul hosted their 25th annual ISD 197 spelling bee in the auditorium of Two Rivers High School. All public elementary and middle schools in the district participated, seeing a turnout of 26 students between the two brackets.
Each competitor received a medal for reaching the district level, and each school also had a champion crowned:
- Garlough: Ian Brandt
- Mendota: Derek Johnson
- Moreland: Isabelle Duren
- Somerset: Henry Seidl
- Pilot Knob: Violet Larson
Middle School Winners:
- Heritage: Grant Jedlicka
- Friendly Hills: Hannah Trudeau
Johnson and Trudeau were crowned district grand champions in their respective brackets as well. Both the grand champions and the school champions will have the opportunity to continue to regionals.
How the Spelling Bee Worked
Every student in the bee was either selected through their school’s spelling bees or via teacher recommendation. Students were allowed to write out the word they were given on provided paper before they said their answer, and if they spelled incorrectly while speaking they were disqualified with one exception: if everyone in their school spelled their word wrong, they would all compete in a tiebreaker for the title of school champion.
The district winners were decided when all but one competitor had been disqualified. In order to secure their win, however, they needed to beat a one-word championship round; the pronouncer gave them a single word, and if they spell it incorrectly the disqualified person or people from the previous round rejoined and the competition continued.
Johnson successfully spelled the word “chaucerian” in his one-word championship round, which according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a word, expression, or quality of style characteristic of or imitative of the writings of Chaucer.” In her round, Trudeau successfully spelled “conurbation” which is “an aggregation or continuous network of urban communities.” In the tiebreakers, the words that secured each student’s victory were: “mortification” for Seidl, “montmorency” for Brandt, and “fata morgana” for Duren.
The details for regionals this year are still fluctuating, including the possibility of it being fully online, but according to Kelly Spavin, the emcee for this evening’s event, “It will take place in March and be comprised of each school winner who will next be taking an online test. The top 50 of those will advance to the regional bee.”
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