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Best at the Bee

Hot Springs sixth-grader is county's top speller


Miriah Kardelis

BEST SPELLERS - Sanders County Spelling Bee winners included (from left) Lucy Metcalf of Dixon (third), Gage Todd of Trout Creek (second) and Naoma Knudsen of Hot Springs (first). Knudsen will compete in the state bee in Bozeman on March 14.

A Hot Springs sixth grader spelled the word penguin correctly to earn the title of Sanders County Spelling Bee champion last week.

On Friday, 16 local students in grades fourth through eighth competed in the county's 33rd annual be at the Sanders County Courthouse. The spelling bee, sponsored by First Security Bank and the Sanders County Ledger, have both been sponsoring the event for the last 33 years. According to Annie Wooden Sanders County Ledger Publisher, "The Ledger and First Security Bank hold the record for the longest privately sponsored bee in the state."

The pronouncer for this year's spelling bee was Dan Whittenburg, who has been the pronouncer now for more than 20 years. Sara Czerwinski who is the county Bee Director, also served as one of the judges. Michael Scharfe from First Security Bank, served as a first-time judge for the spelling bee this year; and the last judge was Karen Dwyer, whom according to Wooden, is a spelling bee legend.

Around 30 family members and friends gathered to watch the 16 spellers, compete for first place. Wooden brought up the spellers and explained the rules as well as the process in which the spelling bee would be conducted. "The winner of today's spelling bee will get a chance to compete at the Montana Spelling Bee, which is going to be in Bozeman on March 14. If the qualified person cannot attend, then the alternate will attend in their place," Wooden stated.

The top three finishers all received trophies for their efforts, which are sponsored by the Ledger. The finishers also received gift cards from First Security Bank. As Wooden wished everyone good luck, the spelling bee officially began.

Whittenburg announced to the spellers they would go through a practice round to familiarize themselves with the process. As the spellers whizzed through the practice round, the first round was also tackled with ease. "We've never had a practice round or a first round without misspellings. We have some excellent spellers here," Whittenburg said.

Miriah Kardelis

Contestants listen as Annie Wooden from The Sanders County Ledger reads the rules of the county spelling bee last Friday at the courthouse in Thompson Falls.

Taking third place was Lucy Metcalf, a fourth grader from Dixon. Metcalf made it to the seventh round, with the misspelling of the word "squirm" disqualifying her from the spelling bee. Gage Todd, a seventh grader from Trout Creek, took home second place in the competition. His final word "pattern" in the ninth round, was misspelled, disqualifying him from the competition. Naoma Knudsen, a sixth grader from Hot Springs, made it all the way to round 10, taking first place and winning the spelling bee with the word "penguin."

Spellers and their grades included:

Dixon: Katie Porter, grade 6; Lucy Metcalf, 4; Adele Ranney, 6; Chalrie Elverud, 7.

Plains: Kylan Bostick, 6; Reece Crowley, 5; Kassidy O'Keefe, 8; Madi Blood, 7.

Trout Creek: Gavin Todd, 5; Gage Todd, 7. Grace Hill and Duke Lupsha, both grade 8, were unable to attend.

Hot Springs: Kora Hensrude, 5; Naoma Knudsen, 6; Elijah Campbell, 8. Ben Aldridge, grade 5, was unable to attend.

Thompson Falls: Arianna Grounds, 7; Aubrey Baxter, 5; Sabrina McGuaghey, 6. Summer Olmos, 7, was unable to attend.


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