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Fifth-grade speller from Lander wins county bee
Spelling bee trophy winners, from left, are champion Edain Rogers, of Lander, second-place Taylor Kotas, of Riverton, third-place Mitchell Siebersma, of Lander, fourth-place Lena Weinstein-Warren, of Lander, and fifth-place Ben Logue, of Lander. Photos by Joshua Scheer

Fifth-grade speller from Lander wins county bee

Feb 23, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer Staff Writer

Inside the Swede Quam gymnasium a hushed crowd of students, teachers and family members watched as seven young spellers wrote down what they believed to be the correct spelling of a particular word.

After tackling "ravioli," "finesse," "luminaria" and "sachet," the seven walked from the tables on the gym floor back to the row of chairs that faced the judges, who scored the written sheets.

The students had made it to the final round of the 2012 Fremont County Spelling Bee.

Fifth- through eighth-graders from Riverton Middle School, Riverton Rendezvous Elementary School, Trinity Lutheran School in Riverton, Baldwin Creek Elementary School in Lander, Lander Middle School, Cornerstone Christian Academy in Lander, Wyoming Indian Elementary School, St. Stephen's Indian School, Shoshoni Elementary School and Fort Washakie all participated in the bee Wednesday at Fort Washakie School.

The day began at about 9:30 a.m. as 52 students converged in Fort Washakie and took a 100-word written spelling test over a nearly two-hour period. Breaks were given after every 25 words.

In the first 25, "gaggle" and "equine" were used. In the final 25, however, spelling got tougher with "pusillanimous" and "diptych."

St. Stephen's eighth-grader Ruby McClain said the written round was difficult and that it took a while to get used to the speaker's pronunciation.

"It was very hard," said Trinity Lutheran eighth-grader Anastasia Strong.

The students got their written tests back so they could see how they did.

The top 20 spellers were announced shortly before 12:30 p.m., and those moved on to the oral round.

RMS had the biggest showing in the top 20 with six students, followed by Shoshoni with five.

"Keep in mind, you are the top spellers in your schools," Fort Washakie librarian Robin Levin told all of the participants.

Levin was the reader during the oral portion.

The first round eliminated eight students with "talc," "philosophize" and "leniency," among other words.

The second round eliminated one student with "elegant."

The third round dropped four more with "accrued," "cellophane," "mezzanine" and "kona."

When it was down to the final seven participants, written tests were used to determine the winners. Levin handled questions of definition, language of origin, and parts of speech frequently for words including "mahatma" and "cringle."

After spelling out 10 words, a three-way tie existed for third, fourth and fifth places.

Another written exam was issued, and then the students waited.

"That was the worst 30 minutes of my life," said Cornerstone eighth-grader Mitchell Siebersma.

Baldwin Creek fifth-grader Edain Rogers was then announced as the winner of this year's county bee. She scored eight out of 10 on the final written test.

After trophies were presented, Edain said the hardest part of the whole day was the first written test.

Trinity Lutheran eighth-grader Taylor Kotas won second place, Mitchell received third, LMS sixth-grader Lena Weinstein-Warren won fourth and Baldwin Creek fifth-grader Ben Logue finished fifth.

Logue said the hardest word of the day was "kudzu" during the tie-breaking round.

The top five earned the opportunity to participate in the State Spelling Bee on March 16 and March 17 in Casper.

However, Cornerstone had not registered with Scripps National Spelling Bee program, leaving Mitchell Siebersma ineligible to participate in state.

RMS seventh-grader Amanda Johnston was bumped up to fill the fifth spot for a Fremont County representative.