Spell It Now!


People watching. Lights glowing. The pronouncer speaks. “Vichyssoise. A thick, cold soup made of puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock.” Will you get it? Will you miss it?

The Colorado State Spelling Bee was held on Saturday, March 12th in Sturm Hall on the University of Denver campus. About 300 spellers from all over Colorado chosen from around 10,000 original contestants gathered in the Davis Auditorium for a written test of 30 words and 15 multiple choice definitions. Afterwards, Phillip Jackson, a 7th grader at Heroes K-8 Academy, said, “I was really nervous, but I think I did pretty good.” The top 34 spellers from the written test then went on to an oral round.

After about 4 hours and 45 minutes of the oral round of the Bee, there were still six spellers left. I never knew that watching a spelling bee was as grueling of an endurance sport as running a marathon or watching paint dry! Tied for third were Bryn Flanigan and Andrew Haapala, and in second came Austin McBride. The champion was Sylvie Lamontagne.

If you’re wondering about the vocabulary required, the words missed by the kids in places 2-6 were: 6) tercentenary, 5) civet, 3) normergic, 3) glaucous, and 2) strychnine. Champion Sylvie Lamontagne won with the word ossifrage.

After the bee, when asked about how she feels about winning and how she thinks she will do in nationals, Sylvie replied, “I’m really happy that I won, and I don’t know how I will do in nationals.” Perhaps part of why she won was related to her study habits: “I studied words and language patterns.” Bryn Flanigan, 3rd place, had different methods of studying, and said “ I memorized the consolidated word list, and I tried to soak up as many words as I could.” Upon being asked how she was satisfied with her spot, she said “It’s okay, it’s what I got last year, but I wish I could’ve done better, although I’m proud of how I worked.”

Best of wishes and luck to Sylvie Lamontagne for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, who will need it up against the country’s best spellers!