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WMS students spell their way to the top

Ten students participated in the annual fifth- and sixth-grade spelling bee Wednesday at the Worthington Middle School. Erin Trester/Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON — Holograph — A document written wholly in the handwriting of the person whose signature it bears. H-o-l-o-g-r-a-p-h. Holograph.

With that word, sixth-grader Hannah Barrie spelled her way to the 2014 fifth and sixth-grade spelling bee championship Wednesday at Worthington Middle School (WMS).

Ten participants competed in multiple rounds, spelling words such as “oceanography,” “nonchalant” and “polychrome.”

Prior to the event, students were given a 30-question written spelling exam.

From that, the top 25 students were chosen and given a second exam of 30 new words. The top 10 were selected to participate from the second exam.

One by one, students stood up and spelled the word they were given.

In an unexpected twist and a first for the competition, a spelling showdown between sixth-graders Azael Rodriguez and Katie O’Donnell determined the team alternate.

The word “gentry” became a challenge for Rodriguez who began the word with ‘J’ instead of ‘G,’ which made O’Donnell the alternate for the competition, having previously correctly spelled “harness.”

Students breezed through the first round with words like “unique” and “scissors.”

However, words like “exaggerate” and “forestall” eliminated some participants, leaving sixth-graders Payton Sauerbrei and Hannah Barrie as the final two competitors.

After a heated spell-off between the two sixth- graders, with words such as “fusion,” “infancy” and “squire,” it was the word “subordinate” that tripped up Sauerbrei, making Barrie the champion.

Both Barrie and Sauerbrei were competing in the spelling bee for the second time, and both improved from last year.

“Last year I think I got ninth or something; I’m really happy with my improvement,” Barrie said.

Barrie and Sauerbrei both admitted that not only is spelling their favorite course, but that they like all language arts classes.

“I love to read and write,” Sauerbrei added.

The fifth- and sixth-grade spelling bee has been hosted at WMS for more than 10 years and has been in existence for at least 20.

With the advancement of technology such as spell check and texting language using frequent abbreviation and shortened words, teachers at the middle school think it crucial for students to be able to spell correctly.

“Spell check doesn’t work every time, and you still have to be able to spell part of the word for it to work, but it is a communication issue, and it’s important to teach all our students to spell correctly,” said Paula Wolyniec, sixth-grade teacher at WMS.

Hollie Hibma, fifth-grade teacher at WMS, added, “I think it also makes our students look more competent in their language, I think with texting and the shortening of words it doesn’t allow some of that competency to shine through.”

Students also earning honors were Jeanette Juarez, third place; Bryce Olsen, fourth place; and Bryan Lopez, fifth place. Katie O’Donnell will be the team’s alternate.

The top five students will compete at the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee on April 12 at Murray County Central West Elementary.

“We had terrific spellers this year, and I’m confident they will do well in Slayton. Hopefully we can bring home the team trophy,” Wolyniec added.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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