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County spelling bee winners move on to state

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ST. IGNATIUS — The 58th Lake County Spelling Bee was held at the St. Ignatius school gym on Feb. 10, with 20 fourth through eighth graders coming together to try and earn their spot at the statewide competition.

Judged by Paula Holle, Brycen Ek, and Leigh Johnson and led by Lake County Superintendent of Schools Carolyn O. Hall, the officials all had words of encouragement and praise to help ease the nerves of the young spellers who had made it this far. Pronouncer John Lyons encouraged the kids to ask for definitions and sentences for their words, even if only to give themselves a moment to steel their nerves. “I’m nervous being in front of all these people, and I’m old,” he told them with a laugh. Additionally, Hall reminded students that they were all winners as they had all already won to get there, and that being on stage in front of so many people was a win in and of itself. 

The first round gave a wide variety of words that challenged the young contestants, with words like gradual, kidney, and headdress eliminating five from the spelling bee - Embermoon Ashely, Boston Evans and Ella Parker of St. Ignatius and Justine Shelby and Bo Brockway of Arlee. 

Rounds two and three increased in difficulty with words like recoup, curries, and scruple taking out Brielle Purser of Valley View, David Broughton, Vivian Wanberg, Eliana Wood, and Eamonn Rigles of St. Ignatius, Jaxon Courville, Anthony Lopez, and JoHanna Long of Charlo, and Izeha Keating of Arlee, leaving only five contestants for the fourth round. 

Round four eliminated Arlee’s Keelan DuPuis with the word “gargantuan,” and St. Ignatius’ Jared Decker with “bedlam,” leaving only three students at the stand - Kyle Cox and Nathan Alder from Charlo, and Johanna Robine from St. Ignatius. 

Robine took third place in the bee, eliminated from the top by the word “phonics” and leaving Cox and Alder as the top two finishers. This guarantees both a spot as representatives of Lake County at the Statewide Spelling Bee. The word “botany” kept Cox from her chance at the top spot, leaving Alder open to win with the successfully spelled word “futility.”

“Please be inspired,” Hall said to the students in the audience. “I want you to want to do this kind of thing. I want you to live a little bit on the edge where you take risks. They’re taking a risk, and they’ve already been successful at doing so. Please do that in your lives also. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll achieve things you didn’t know you could do.” 

Alder and Cox will now be invited to compete in the State Bee in Bozeman on March 11. Those who win there will then be able to proceed to the National Spelling Bee held in Maryland this May. 

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