Three WMS super spellers compete at regional bee

WORTHINGTON -- Three Worthington Middle School (WMS) girls know exactly how to spell success: Focus on reading and go with your gut. On Tuesday, sixth-grader Victoria Beltran, seventh-grader Jenna Hoffman and eighth-grader Samara Nordby put their...

Participants in the WWC Service Cooperative’s Regional Spelling Bee on Tuesday included Worthington Middle School students Samara Nordby (far left), Jenna Hoffman (second from right) and Victoria Beltran (far right). (Special to the Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON - Three Worthington Middle School (WMS) girls know exactly how to spell success: Focus on reading and go with your gut.


On Tuesday, sixth-grader Victoria Beltran, seventh-grader Jenna Hoffman and eighth-grader Samara Nordby put their brains to work and represented WMS as contestants in the SWWC Service Cooperative’s Regional Spelling Bee at the Redwood Area Community Center, Redwood Falls.


With 32 spellers from 26 districts competing, Hoffman emerged in second place. As one of the bee’s top four finishers, she clinched a trip to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the five Minnesota Service Cooperatives, in Fergus Falls on Feb. 21.


“I’m excited but a little nervous,” admitted Hoffman, who finished sixth in the 2016 regional spelling bee. “Mostly, I just want to do my best and hopefully I’ll make it through at least a few rounds.”


Nordby and Beltran also competed well, with Nordby landing in 10th place overall and Beltran in 22nd.


“It was really intense,” noted Beltran, who qualified for Tuesday’s bee by virtue of landing at the top of her sixth grade WMS peers in a 40-word qualifying spelling test. Hoffman and Nordby were past members of the WMS 5th/6th grade spelling team who participated in a written “spell-down” to secure their spots in the regional bee.


“My nerves got the best of me in the oral rounds, and I can’t believe I misspelled ‘leisure,’” she groaned.



Hoffman, the daughter of Dave and Angie Hoffman, Worthington, also noticed the pressure.


“You could tell there were a few kids who thought, ‘I’m going to win this thing’ and were really competitive,” Hoffman commented.


Added Nordby, “But everybody was there for a different reason; some kids looked like they read dictionaries cover to cover, and others were forced to be there.”


Reading dictionaries might not be a regular part of these girls’ daily routines, but reading other material most definitely is.



“I like to read,” smiled Hoffman, who misspelled “sedentary” on Tuesday but was thrilled her gut response for “useable” turned out to be correct. “Right now I’m reading Marissa Meyer’s ‘Winter’ from ‘The Lunar Chronicles.’”


“I love to read,” affirmed Beltran. “I like reading books that I can relate to, like ‘The Bluford Series.’”


“The books I like best are ones that make you think and help you gain perspective,” commented Nordby.


Although Nordby claimed she didn’t study the spelling lists provided in advance of the contest, both Hoffman and Beltran eventually reviewed them - at least a little.


“I’m a procrastinator,” admitted Beltran. “I forgot about the lists until three weeks ago, but then I studied the whole packet.”


“Usually I’d look through a couple lines of words a day, and if some of them were harder, I looked at them a little more,” said Hoffman.


WMS teachers Paula Wolyniec and Hollie Hibma have coordinated the annual 5th/6th grade spelling bee for the past 16 years. They’re currently working to set the details for the 2017 school bee, which will involve 14 fifth- and sixth-grade students.


“I’m very proud of our spellers who competed on Tuesday,” said Wolyniec. “They all worked hard to prepare for the bee, and they represented WMS well.


“We were allowed to send three students to the regional bee because our student population has increased significantly, and each school is allowed one participant per 1,000 students in the respective districts.”


The winner of the Feb. 21 Multi-Region State Meet, at which Hoffman will compete, will advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., later in the spring.


Beltran, meanwhile, is looking forward to the upcoming WMS 5th/6th Spelling Bee.


“I’m hoping to redeem myself,” she said.


Her “sisters in spelling,” Hoffman and Nordby, offered their tips for further spelling success.


“Take deep breaths,” they chorused in unison.


“After a couple of rounds, it gets easier,” Hoffman encouraged.


Contributed Nordby, “Remember that you’re in a room full of nerds, spelling words.

“I kept telling myself on Tuesday, ‘If I were back at school right now, I’d be in gym class - instead, I get to spell stuff,” she beamed.

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