FORT WAYNE – Theres nothing like going to a spelling bee on a Saturday morning to leave a spectator feeling like a dummy.
The regional finals of the 58th Annual Spelling Bee – sponsored by The Journal Gazette, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and IPFW – were Saturday morning at the Rhinehart Music Center Recital Hall on IPFW campus.
Fifteen spellers who won their county bees competed from throughout northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. After 35 rounds, Kaelyn Bender, a seventh-grader at St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic School in Noble County, won with the word stratification (the act or process or arranging persons into classes or social strata), after which she had correctly spelled uitlander (a British immigrant living in the Transvaal who was denied citizenship by the Boers for cultural and economic reasons), braggadocio (arrogant behavior) and voortrekker (a member of one of the groups of Dutch-speaking people who migrated by wagon from the Cape Colony into the interior from 1836 onwards, in order to live beyond the borders of British rule).
Bender started studying the 16- to 18-page packet of words as soon as her school passed it out in December, she said. A voracious (having a very eager approach to an activity) reader with a competitive streak, Bender would spend time practicing the word list with her parents and teachers.
For the especially tricky words, Bender would create her own mnemonic (designed to aid the memory) devices, said Chad Helmkamp, who has Bender for homeroom class at the end of the day. For example, one of the words she spelled correctly was meiji (the period when Japan was ruled by the emperor Meiji Tenno, marked by the modernization and westernization of the country); she referred to the store Meijer to remember its unusual spelling.
She also worked with Helmkamp about how different languages spell their words, she said.
Throughout the competition, Bender kept her poise and professionalism. She appeared almost strict in her appeals to the word reader to ask for alternative pronunciations or countries of origin. When she learned she had spelled her winning word correctly, though, her face broke into an enormous grin, and she started to laugh. As the other competitors received their awards for competing, she continued to chuckle.
Bender wins a copy of Websters Third New International Dictionary; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, which comes with a $100 savings bond; a one-year subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online; a $20 gift card for Amazon. com; a Scripps National Spelling Bee T-shirt; and an all-expenses-paid trip with one adult to Washington, D.C., for the 85th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.
Second place in the bee went to Jaeden Roussey, a fifth-grader at Coesse Elementary School in Whitley County, who misspelled fatality.
Maddie Richmond, the eighth-grader at Montpelier Exempted Village School in Williams County who won last years regional bee, came in third. She misspelled apparatchik (an official in a large organization, typically a political one).
The two spellers and Bender competed in six rounds together before Richmond missed a word. Often, students will memorize their packet of words, said Anne Gregory, a bee judge and web editor and writer for The Journal Gazette, and then the pronouncer will have to resort to the 200 additional words that were not included in the packets the students received to study.
Otherwise, theyd never miss a word, Gregory said.