Therefore, it is refreshing to see that for 15 students at Houlton Middle-Senior High School still have an interest in learning the proper way to spell tricky words with complex meanings.
The school held its annual spelling bee for students in grades 6-8 Friday with a winner and runner-up earning the right to advance to the Aroostook County Bee — slated for Feb. 4 at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
“This is a wonderful educational opportunity for all of us,” said Principal Marty Bouchard, who served as “Bee Master” for the competition.
He encouraged those students seated in the audience to try and spell the words silently in their mind as a way to remain engaged in the event.
A youth movement is underway for Houlton students as the overall champion — Hope Chernesky — is a sixth-grader at the school. She beat out several older peers as she correctly spelled the word “phrasing” in the 12th round to win the crown.
Determining a runner-up who would accompany Chernesky to the County competition took a bit longer as sixth-grader Paige Royal and seventh-grader Damian Suitter battled through another 11 rounds of competition before Suitter was ultimately declared the runner-up.
In total, the Houlton bee lasted nearly two hours. Houlton’s competition featured several tricky words, such as “enunciate,” “worrywart” and “trellis.”
Students were presented with tablets of paper and pencils to write their words down, if they so chose. Bouchard went over the rules with the spellers explaining they could ask for their word to be pronounced again; ask for a definition; or ask to hear the word used in a sentence.
Librarian Betty Fraser and Gifted-and-Talented teacher Jenn Carr served as judges for the event.
Also participating in the bee were sixth-graders, Leah Antworth, Nick McGuire and Cheyenne Lane; seventh-graders, Halee Grant, Maliyha Kinney, Morgan Graham, Rhylee Parsons; and eighth-graders Carson Grant, Keegan Gentle, Jade Leavitt, Jonus Joslyn and Keanen Lindsay.