WMS fields top speller in regional spelling contest

WORTHINGTON -- It took 15 rounds to determine the winner of last Tuesday's SW/WC Service Cooperative's Regional Spelling Bee in Redwood Falls, but after dozens of words had, letter by letter, been mastered or slaughtered, Worthington's own Jenna ...

Jenna Hoffman, a Worthington Middle School eighth-grader, won the SW/WC Service Cooperative’s Regional Spelling Bee in Redwood Falls earlier this week. (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - It took 15 rounds to determine the winner of last Tuesday’s SW/WC Service Cooperative’s Regional Spelling Bee in Redwood Falls, but after dozens of words had, letter by letter, been mastered or slaughtered, Worthington’s own Jenna Hoffman was the overall victor.


“I was pretty nervous when we started, but I eased into it after a little while,” reported the Worthington Middle School (WMS) eighth-grader modestly.


“Winning made me really happy.”



Hoffman and two other WMS students - sixth-grader Samantha Cortez and seventh-grader Dillon Maras, who also made it into the top 15 of the day’s 31 competitors and eventually tied for eighth place - represented Worthington in fine form.


They had previously scored at the top of a written spelling test administered to all WMS students, thus qualifying them for the regional bee. There, 31 students from 26 districts in the 18-county area handled by the SW/WC Service Cooperative put their best efforts on the line in a daylong series of one written and three oral rounds.

But this wasn’t Hoffman’s first spelling rodeo; she placed second in the 2017 regional bee so knows exactly what to expect when she travels to Fergus Falls on Feb. 21 to participate in this year’s state spelling contest.


“I think I finished around sixth or seventh at the state bee last year, and my goal is to finish at least around there again - and do my best,” said Hoffman, the daughter of Dave and Angie Hoffman of Worthington.



Paula Wolyniec, a WMS teacher who coordinates the school’s spelling contests and teams along with colleague Hollie Hibma, will be rooting for Hoffman as she continues her quest for spelling success.


“Jenna has two qualities which make her a winner: intelligence and a willingness to work hard,” said Wolyniec.


“She has competed at the state level before and follows in the footsteps of other formidable spellers from WMS who also competed at state contests in recent years, Davis Moore and Kalea Appel.


“It’s exciting and encouraging to me as a teacher to work with students who have the drive to compete and succeed.”



Hoffman did, indeed, put in time to study for the test, reviewing provided lists of possible words in the preceding weeks. She’s also an avid reader and has recently discovered the novels of author Jodi Picoult.


“One word I’m embarrassed I misspelled is ‘heifer,’” she admitted. “I spelled it with two ‘f’s,’ but one of the harder words I got right was ‘Nachtmusik.’


In addition, Hoffman nailed “verdigris,” and it was her correct spelling of “vernacular” that clinched the champion title.


The state spelling bee winner will advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., but even if Hoffman doesn’t go all the way, she has other things to keep her occupied - including another competitive academic enrichment opportunity in March, the state History Bee, at which she and several other qualifying WMS students will appear.


“Participation in events like spelling bees, history bees, geography bees and speech contests raise the bar for all of our students and are ways to celebrate excellence in academics,” affirmed Wolyniec.


“I’m proud of Jenna, Dillon and Sam for their dedication and desire to do well.”

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