• Last modified 712 days ago (Feb. 13, 2020)


Eighth grader makes most of final spelling bee

Staff writer

After receiving her second straight year chance to compete at Kansas’ state spelling bee, Marion Elementary fourth grader Alexandra Carlson is looking forward to tougher competition.

“You study a much more complicated list and it’s very long,” she said.

It’s important to know definitions of words at state as well because one round of competition focuses on them, Alexandra said.

Her eventual goal is to make it to the national competition, but Alexandra is focusing on topping herself at state.

“I want to make it past the first word,” she said.

The county competition’s runner-up was eighth grader Paige Gehring of Hillsboro Middle School, which earned her a spot as an alternate.

Having the spelling bee during the school day and doing well gave her an added sense of achievement, Paige said.

“It felt special,” she said. “It gives you a little bit of an ego boost.”

Alexandra was prepared for Marion County’s spelling bee because the words she had to spell were similar to those in her school spelling bee.

“I already have them all studied, so it isn’t that hard,” she said. “At state you don’t get as much time and it’s a different list.”

Alexandra won in the ninth round of the county spelling bee Feb. 5 at Centre, when she spelled “depot” correctly after Paige stumbled on “haughty.”

Alexandra prefers words chosen for state because they are longer and often have foreign origins.

Instead of studying specific words, Paige prefers to use reading as a tool.

“I start to use a bigger vocabulary based on whatever book I’m reading,” she said. “Sometimes when I see bigger words I’ll be like, ‘Oh, the spelling bee is coming up.’ I don’t really go and study for it, though, it’s mostly the reading.”

In her first time reaching the county finals, Paige said she enjoyed connecting with peers.

“It was fun to be there with my friends,” she said. “It felt like a team event.”

The team atmosphere kept Paige from being too anxious.

“It’s one of those things where you’re automatically nervous, even though you tell yourself it’s not a big deal,” she said. “We had donuts and juice, so I liked sitting down and talking.”

Having the audience sit behind the students was a great change at the county competition, Alexandra said.

“I like it better when they’re behind,” she said. “It’s easier because you don’t see them.”

The location also helped because contestants and audience members were on the same level, Paige said.

“I enjoyed the fact that we were not up on a stage,” she said. “We were just sitting in chairs in a gym, and it wasn’t our peers, it was our parents so it wasn’t so bad.”

The audience will again be in front when Alexandra competes at the state competition March 21 in Wichita, but she expects to keep her composure by concentrating on her words instead of the crowd.

Last modified Feb. 13, 2020