Greenlee hosts 2017 state spelling bee

After six rounds, the 2017 Iowa regional of the Scripps National Spelling Bee was completed in 20 minutes.

AMES, Iowa–The Greenlee School hosted the Iowa regional of the Scripps National Spelling Bee] on Saturday, March 25.
Fourteen students gathered in Iowa State’s Hamilton Hall on the rainy morning to participate in the 2017 competition.

The competitors and their families and friends filled Room 169. These experienced spellers had qualified for the regional competition by winning their school spelling bees.

The sixth- through eighth-graders prepared for the bee by studying a list of 450 words on the 2017 School Spelling Bee Study List. After mastering that list, students are encouraged to study using the Scripps National Spelling Bee study site for school spelling champions created in cooperation with Merriam-Webster. This resource focuses on about 1150 words. Finally, they can play the word games found at Merriam-Webster’s Word Central to further expand their spelling skills.

Eighth-grader Lydia Bitterman won the final local competition and will move on to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Samantha Robinson-Adams, lecturer in English, was the pronouncer for the third year in a row. This year, the judges were Kim McDonough, director of alumni relations for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Deb Gibson, Greenlee senior lecturer. Student volunteers kept record of the spelling rounds to ensure accuracy.

Robinson-Adams began the bee by announcing words from a predetermined list, steadily moving on to more challenging words as the competition progressed.

This year’s competition moved at lightning speed. The majority of spellers were eliminated in the first couple rounds. By round five, only three competitors remained: Lydia Bitterman (seventh grade, Marion Home School), Badra Kalil (eighth grade, Northwest Junior High School) and Kassidy Chadwick (seventh grade, Exira-EHK Middle School). Bitterman was crowned the 2017 Iowa Finals Champion in the sixth and final round after she correctly spelled the word “pinafore.”

Bitterman will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where she’ll compete against over 280 spellers May 28-June 3. The Greenlee School will sponsor her trip.

Greenlee program coordinator Alyssa Rutt, who organized the bee, said this was the sixth consecutive year the school has hosted the competition.

“The spelling bee is a wonderful enrichment opportunity that helps students improve their spellings skills and increase their vocabularies. For the Greenlee School, the bee is a great way to promote language skills and connect with home school associations and schools across the state,” Rutt said.

Nine newspapers joined together to host the first National Spelling Bee in 1925. Now in its 90th year (there were no National Spelling Bee during the World War II years of 1943-1945), the national competition has over 11 million student participants.

Do you have what it takes? Try your hand at the 2016 Preliminaries Test to see if you could have qualified for the National Spelling Bee finals last year.

**By Nicole Onken**