WORTHINGTON - Three Worthington Middle School (WMS) students competed on Tuesday at the SWWC Service Cooperative’s Regional Spelling Bee at Redwood Falls.


“They represented our community very well,” said Paula Wolyniec, a WMS sixth-grade teacher who coordinates competitive spelling events for the school along with colleague Hollie Hibma.


Fifth-grader Thomas Anguiano finished in seventh place, while eighth-grader Dillon Maras landed in a tie for eighth place. There were 32 competitors overall from 28 area schools involved in the contest.


Sixth-grader Isaac Kinser tied for sixth place in the initial written and oral rounds, meaning he narrowly missed the cut for advancing with the top 17 spellers to the final spelldown.


Maras, meanwhile, rocked the written round, tying for first with two other spellers. Anguiano also qualified for the suspenseful spelldown by virtue of his second-place tie in the initial written and oral rounds.


While both Anguiano and Maras missed the top five slots and thus will not advance to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee at Fergus Falls, Anguiano and Kinser will have the chance to further prove their spelling prowess when the WMS 5/6 Spelling Bee occurs on Feb. 21.


“The top five spellers from the WMS 5/6 Bee will compete at the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee at Westbrook-Walnut Grove in early April,” said Wolyniec.


Anguiano, Maras and Kinser were the highest scorers - in fact, the three boys tied for the best score - on a written test taken by students at WMS. It was that performance that sent them to last week’s bee in Redwood Falls.


“They were given word lists in advance to help them prepare for the regional bee,” said Wolyniec. “There are hundreds of words on those lists, many of them difficult, and I’m impressed they made the effort to study and ready themselves for the competition.”


As an eighth-grader, Maras is no longer eligible to compete in the WMS 5/6 Spelling Bee, but this was his second year of participation in the regional bee.


“Spelling bees give kids a chance to test their academic abilities, and it’s one way to let students shine in their areas of academic strength,” said Wolyniec.


“They can gain confidence by competing in a public setting, and we should celebrate their achievements.”