Scripps National Spelling Bee coming back to Meeker in 2019

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These Meeker second graders will compete in the district spelling bee Wednesday, Jan. 23 for a chance to go to state competition.

MEEKER | Every year, students from all walks of life and from all over the country participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, one of the nation’s oldest and most iconic competitions, a tradition 90 years in the making. The 2018 Spelling Bee was the first that the Meeker School District participated in for more than 20 years, and they are thrilled to be bringing it back for its second year.

Elementary school Principal Kathy Collins and teacher Keri Grieser spearheaded the effort to bring the Spelling Bee back to Meeker, feeling that it would provide a unique academic challenge to young students. 

The 2018 District Champion, Ainsley Selle, then 12 years old, and runner-up Montey Franklin, 10 years old, dedicated endless hours learning Scripps’ 450 school spelling words to compete at the District level. Selle then followed her District win by learning a fresh set of more than 1,000 words to compete at the state level. The practice and training help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, develop correct English usage, and learn valuable time management skills that will benefit them all their lives.

At the state level, the Selle family quickly realized that Scripps National Spelling Bee was not for the faint of heart. Selle and more than 200 other Colorado students worked their way through written spelling and vocabulary exams, with only 30 students moving on to the next level of competition.

The most serious spellers are even accompanied by coaches, similar to competitors at any other national-level competition. According to the Scripps’ website, “On every stage and during every round, family, friends and spectators witness the true journey of the competitors, complete with its ups and downs. Communities rally around each speller, cheering in their victories and sympathizing in their defeat. Through it all, these spellers teach each of us a lesson on true dedication, grit and resilience of the human spirit.”

Back for its second year, this year’s Bee is sponsored by Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty and Suzan Pelloni, who are delighted to support the event. “These children have exemplified phenomenal dedication,” says Pelloni, “and we want to recognize their achievements.”

Many of Meeker’s first through eighth graders have been busy preparing for the 2019 competition. Last week, more than 150 elementary students took part in the grade-level written exams. Students who received more than 70 percent on that written test moved on to this week’s oral exam. The top spelllers from each of the grades are then invited to compete in the Meeker RE-1 School District Spelling Bee on Jan. 23. The winner of the District Bee will go on to compete at the state level in March.

Last year’s runner-up Montey Franklin is excited to be competing again and has been busy practicing. Montey’s mother, Ann Franklin, who is also the Elementary School Librarian, has some words of advice for those preparing for this year’s Bee. “Words of wisdom … practice a lot,” she says. “Practice the easy words, even if you know how to spell them. Don’t get in a hurry when you are spelling. Say the word slowly before you spell it. Don’t be afraid to ask for the word in a sentence or for the word to be repeated. Have fun, and don’t be afraid to try.”

Franklin adds, “I absolutely love the Spelling Bee, because it publicly recognizes the scholastic achievements of our students and challenges them to do something out of the ordinary. It encourages them to overcome their fears. It helps them learn new words, the meaning of words, and enhances their public speaking skills. I would encourage everyone to come to the spelling bee and support our young students. It is an exciting event that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and you will find yourself cheering for every speller.”

Every student who qualifies for the district level spelling bee will be awarded a gift certificate to the Scholastic Book Fair. But at the end of the day, as noted on Scripps’ website, “Each speller who participates at any stage of a school, local or national spelling bee walks away with a deeper appreciation for language. They also take away important lessons on hard work and memories that will last a lifetime.”

Special to the Herald Times